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Tadano hosts its first full-scale open innovation competition

March 28, 2022  By Crane & Hoist Canada staff

TadanoImage: Tadano

For safe and efficient crane operations, trained operators who can make intelligent and accurate decisions are ideal. However, challenges such as the declining and aging workforce make it difficult for companies to find enough operators. Technology shows great promise to help solve this problem.

To that effect, Tadano organized its first full-scale open innovation competition with a goal of creating a motion control AI that can execute crane operation simulations.
Fumihiko Futaba, assistant manager of the Tadano Advanced Research Technology Center, oversaw the competition. He noted while Tadano has already engaged in joint research with companies and universities, the public competition offered an opportunity to “take open innovation activities one step further.”

For the competition, Tadano partnered with SIGNATE, a data science platform that promotes collaboration efforts between companies, governments and research institutions, often via competitions.

Tadano’s crane simulation challenge proved one of the most challenging and rewarding, as it offered the highest prize money in their competition history.
The competition welcomed 1,033 participants from 1,150 entries.


“We are very grateful for the number of applications we received,” Futaba said. “This competition was not a simple data analysis, but a difficult and unprecedented task of running a simulator to build a control AI. The fact that many people participated is proof that there are many online researchers and engineers who are full of inquisitiveness, and we felt the possibilities from such open innovation.”

The complexity of the challenge required seminars with technical support to educate participants on cranes and their operation. Participants were judged on the speed, accuracy and safety of load lifts executed during arbitrarily determined slewing operations, all of which require complex calculations.

“Tadano makes heavy equipment products that are large and sophisticated. These cranes operate in challenging environments, which are impacted by such trends as decarbonization, the aging of the general operator population, and lifting operations characterized by long wait periods with suspended loads,” said Tadano President and CEO Toshiaki Ujiie.

“To meet these challenges, it is necessary to take on such product development initiatives as electrification, automation, and remote control.”

RELATED: Tadano introduces the first crane under its one brand strategy

After careful analysis and judging, winners and other finalists were invited to the awards ceremony, held earlier this year. About 80 people were invited to watch the top three finalists deliver presentations on their solutions with technical details. A lively question-and-answer session followed, often revealing ingenious development methods.

Among the five overall winners, one was a team and four were individuals. The top winner was Team Nssol, which consisted of four members of the Systems Research and Development Center of NS Solutions Corporation.

Team members researched and devised solutions using a variety of methods and embraced the opportunity to improve their knowledge of reinforcement learning.

“Reinforcement learning technology is advancing day by day, and ingenuity is required to evolve,” said Professor Yutaka Matsuo, an AI researcher at Tokyo University and chairman of the Japan Deep Learning Association.

“I think that each team realized that they could do something good by devising solutions. With this as an opportunity, I hope more will take on the challenge of using AI for machine control.”

Tadano’s AI effort

These results have proved encouraging for Tadano’s AI efforts and new collaborations.

“Tadano is researching and developing AI adaptation to other products, and there are some fields where promising results are being produced,” Futaba said. “In the near future, we would like to set up other channels to disclose our AI efforts, so please look forward to our future developments.”

Ujiie added cooperation with external partners is indispensable as Tadano embarks upon new initiatives.

“In a manner that could not have been achieved by our engineers working alone, the participants produced wonderful solutions in a very short period of time,” Ujiie said. “Tadano will continue to pursue such open innovation opportunities proactively.”


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