Komatsu’s Intelligent Machine Control helps Mighty Machines TV

By: Cobey Bartels, Photography by: Matt Beaver

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Episode 8 of Mighty Machines features some heavy duty earthmoving, with Komatsu’s Intelligent Machine Control helping Cobey Bartels dig with the best

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For Episode 8 of Mighty Machines I wanted to up the ante, do something crazy. Or just really stupid.

I had ideas – I mean I wanted some aerial action and I also wanted to sneak some dirt bikes into the show to try and claw back my reputation after rolling a Polaris RZR Turbo in Episode 3.

My initial idea of going up in a fighter jet fell over before it left the ground, due to a complete lack of aviation experience on my part. But the dirt bike idea was still kicking around…

Mighty Machines TV teams up with Komatsu and X Games gold medallist Jackson ‘Jacko’ Strong
My back hurts just looking at this stunt

The next best thing to flying a fighter jet, I figured, was taking the controls of the heftiest bit of earthmoving gear I could get my eager hands on. A joystick’s a joystick, right?

Komatsu Australia came to the party, with a number of solutions to my somewhat unrealistic needs and wants. They had some trick new equipment, with futuristic semi-autonomous functionality that I just had to try out for myself.

Due to my overwhelming lack of skill operating serious machinery, the legends at Komatsu thought it was also wise to send in a professional. Well, a man famous for being professionally crazy.

There was an added bonus to this, which was the fact that I was scrambling to get somebody famous on the show after I'd told the ‘powers that be’ that we had a number of celebrity appearances set for Season 1.

So, when X-Games gold medalist and Komatsu ambassador, Jacko Strong, was put forward – it was on.

Mighty Machines TV teams up with Komatsu and X Games gold medallist Jackson ‘Jacko’ Strong
Stunt plane shenanigans left us grinning from ear to ear


The aim of the game here was to help Jacko build a new specialised jump at his training facility, and in exchange he’d let me come for a ride and get a bit of dirt action in.

I wasn’t going to turn up empty handed, so courtesy of Komatsu Rental, I rolled up with a PC18 mini digger hitched up to the Mighty Machines D-Max.

The PC18 might be small, but it packs a punch and given my relative lack of earthmoving experience, it was a suitable size!

Now, I didn’t know what to expect from Strong but he didn’t disappoint. I’d asked for a bit of a tour, to which he promptly responds, "The best way to see this place is from up there," as he points to the sky.

I knew Strong didn’t own a fighter jet, but I'd seen a stunt plane on my way into his property. Yes, I was nervous, and the large ‘EXPERIMENTAL’ decal in the cockpit didn’t help. 

The enormous motorcycle playground didn’t look quite as terrifying from a few thousand feet in the sky, but I suspect Strong didn’t take me up just to ‘show me around’ anyway.

He took me up to scare me, plain and simple. One second we’re gently climbing, the next second Strong smirks across at me and tilts abruptly into a sequence of rolls and flips.

"Alright, we’re going to pull a few ‘G’ again," he tells me just after I think I’m through the worst of it.

What. A. Hoot.

The PC18 might be small, but it’s big on fun. This little digger is an absolute hoot to scratch around in
The PC18 might be small, but it’s big on fun. This little digger is an absolute hoot to scratch around in


After I got my land legs back and expelled some servo sausage roll, Strong and I got to work, my PC18 alongside his mammoth HB 205 Hybrid, on building an all-new jump with specific requirements.

While Strong was the first to point out that size doesn’t matter, I quickly realised the PC18 wasn’t shifting enough dirt to be of any real help.

That’s where Komatsu came to the party, with its PC128 with Intelligent Machine Control (IMC).

Sounds pretty high-tech, right? Well that’s because it is. The IMC is all about improving efficiency and productivity – offering operators stroke-sensing hydraulics and multiple automated dozing modes.

The IMC allowed a complete rookie like me to do what Strong was doing with decades of experience in a digger. The implications for real-world operators are game changing.

Once Strong cleaned up the mess I'd made hacking away at his jump, it was time for some fun. "It’s time to go riding," Strong tells me. I’m suddenly scanning the crowd of onlookers for a suitable stunt double!

The jump we cut was huge, featuring a 46 degree take off angle and a bigger gap than I could wrap my mind around.

Whether I subbed in a stunt double or not, I'll keep secret, but watch for yourself and take a guess.

Check out Mighty Machines on 10 PLAY.

Mighty Machines TV teams up with Komatsu and X Games gold medallist Jackson ‘Jacko’ Strong
The dream team: Komatsu’s PC128 with IMC, and the big HB 205 Hybrid ready to carve it up

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