Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) has invited application for the “Project for Promoting the Development of Innovative Technologies for Outer Space Autonomous Construction.”*. Among the nation’s premier companies and organizations, the Technology R & D proposal of GIKEN was selected. GIKEN will conduct a contract with MLIT this fiscal year to commence an investigation on Press-in technologies in space with a view to construction activities on the lunar surface.
Feasibility Study on Press-in Technology in space development to commence
07 Dec 2021 NEWS RELEASE
The SILENT PILER™ and systematic equipment of GIKEN differ in principles from other pile drivers, and they do not require machine weight to stabilize the plant. Hence, the Press-in principle will be operational in a non-gravitational space. As transportation of personnel and equipment to the moon would be limited, we believe the full automation construction technology and lightweight and compact machine of GIKEN would be efficient in construction planning on the lunar surface.
We continue to solve global construction issues based on our corporate policy of “changing the world’s construction through The Implant Method™” and the various advantages of the Press-in principle. The innovative approaches of GIKEN will continue to expand from Kochi, the company’s birthplace, globally and to outer space.
Through this feasible study, we will expand the scope of our activities to include outer space, verify the potential of the Press-in technology, and aim for a future in which the SILENT PILER™ operating worldwide will play an active role on moon and planets.
*MLIT website in Japanese: https://www.mlit.go.jp/report/press/sogo15_hh_000302.html
■Press-in technology operative in space
The construction challenge on the lunar surface and in outer space
Constructing a base on the lunar surface is not simple; the same method used on Earth cannot be utilized. For example, the lunar surface gravity is about 1/6th of the Earth. When penetrating piles, a reaction force is exerted to lift the machine upward. Using a pile-driving machine that stabilizes the plant by its weight would mean that a machine six times larger is required and is unrealistic.
The possibility of pile construction by the Press-in technology
▶Lightweight and compact machinery
The SILENT PILER™ grips onto the previously installed piles and uses the resistance force of those piles (“reaction force”) to stabilize the plant. Therefore, the machine is lightweight and compact and can be operative even on the moon, where the gravity is comparatively weak.
▶Contributing to the reduction of machinery materials and acceleration of construction activities through “subsurface visualization.”
With the Press-in Piling Total System（PPT System™), various data can be acquired during installation, and we can estimate ground information, and fully automated operation is possible. Therefore, preliminary ground investigations such as boring can be reduced, reducing the number of mechanical materials transported and shortening the construction period. Sharing underground visualization and acquired ground data contributes to accelerating construction activities on the lunar surface, etc.
※ The SILENT PILER™ hydraulically controls pile behavior, and data such as press-in force, extraction force, pile penetration depth, and installation hours can be obtained automatically during the process of applying static load to the pile installation. The PPT System™ estimates ground condition and construction status from the acquired data and optimizes installation, and responses to the ground conditions automatically, and install with high accuracy.
The “Project for Promoting the Development of Innovative Technologies for Autonomous Construction, such as on the Moon.”* lead-managed by MLIT is part of the “Strategic Program for Accelerating Research, Development and Utilization of Space Technology (Stardust Program)” by the Cabinet Office. MLIT will collaborate with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology to establish construction infrastructure technologies through industry-academia-government collaboration to develop construction activities for the outer space in the future. The project launched in July 2021 and proposals for technological research and development were publicly invited. All selected companies and organizations will conduct technology research and development and evolve various issues while exchanging opinions among the parties.
Ten proposals were selected, including GIKEN. We will research the applicability of the non-gravity-dependent pile installation by the Implant™ Method in outer space by March 2022.
■Proposal of GIKEN
① Applicability range of press-in technologies in a microgravity environment
Press-in technologies, which do not rely on gravity, can be utilized in outer space for a wide variety of applications besides pile installation. For instance, we can make use of a press-in machine in mining underground resources and constructing anchors that fix various items. We propose multiple applications of the press-in technologies in a microgravity environment.
② Machine development
To transport much personnel for construction activity to the moon is assumed to be difficult, and construction is anticipated to be fully automated. Development of automated press-in technologies is partially undergoing; however, full automation is yet incomplete. In addition, a shift to operating machines with solar power is required. We will identify and organize the necessary technical developments and develop a machine operative on the lunar surface.
③ Utilizing Press-in Installation Data
By utilizing the PPT System™, the number of preliminary ground investigations can be reduced for design and construction. We will identify additional items that may arise in using the technology on the moon moving forward.
GIKEN has concluded a contract with the MLIT in October 2021. The feasibility study will commence, and we believe exchanging discussions with selected companies and organizations will further develop the Press-in technology. We expect this will also lead to additional technological innovations. GIKEN will implement the verification results, and we will further develop our mission of “Construction Revolution.”
■Profile of GIKEN Group
GIKEN developed the SILENT PILER, the world’s first reaction-based hydraulic pile jacking machine, installing piles with no noise and vibration. GIKEN Group now actively promotes the Press-in Technology worldwide and contributes to the construction industry by proposing and implementing innovative solutions. The innovative technology of press-in provides a unique solution and the adoption of this technology has grown to more than 40 nations and regions.
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