MMC Gamuda’s AI-powered tunnel driller wins top innovation award in US

(From left to right) Engineers John Lim Ji Xiong and Liew Kit Shen, acting tunnel general manager Justin Chin Jing Ho and deputy project director Ng Hau Wei, pose with ITA’s Hangseok Choi with their Technical Product Innovation of the Year trophy.

KUALA LUMPUR: A cutting edge technology to drill tunnels developed by Malaysia’s MMC Gamuda KVMRT (T) Sdn Bhd has won an award for innovation at the 2019 International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association (ITA) Tunnelling Awards held in Miami, US on Monday.

The Autonomous Tunnel Boring Machine (A-TBM) beat three other contenders from Italy, Australia and Switzerland, where each innovation underwent two stages of evaluation by 17 industry-expert judges chaired by ITA president Jinxiu (Jenny) Yan.

The awards ceremony was part of the 8th Annual Cutting-Edge Conference, which brought together tunnelling experts from around the world.

The A-TBM is the world’s first automated system, which is equipped with custom artificial intelligence control algorithms that enable autonomous control.

Its state-of-the-art system allows data to be analysed in real time, with minimal human involvement needed for steering and excavation.

Workers pose with the award-winning Autonomous Tunnel Boring Machine at the Ampang Park MRT station in Kuala Lumpur.

The system has demonstrated faster response times, improved accuracy and tangible productivity benefits including prolonged cutting tool life and shorter cycle times.

Prototypes of the A-TBM prototypes were tested during the construction of the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (KVMRT) for the Sungai-Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya package, for which MMC Gamuda was the main contractor.

“Our tunnelling team has poured a lot of sweat and tears into the innovation and overcame insurmountable road blocks to get to where we are today,” said MMC Gamuda deputy project director Ng Hau Wei, who received the award on behalf of the company.

At the event, a presentation of the A-TBM was witnessed by over 300 tunnelling experts.

Meanwhile, MMC Gamuda’s acting tunnel general manager Justin Chin, was thrilled for having the opportunity to share the accomplishment on a global stage.

“We’re ecstatic that we could bring home this award for MMC Gamuda and Malaysia just two years since we started the Autonomous TBM project.

“Clearly, the tunnelling industry is primed for another technological breakthrough and we’re proud to be leading the way”.