Industrial vehicles manufacturer Caterpillar claims it now has the largest number of autonomous trucks in operation anywhere in the world.
The company calls it “a significant milestone”, adding that it has “long been recognized as the industry leader” in autonomous vehicle implementation.
Caterpillar says the achievement is “exciting” not only for the mining industry, but also its customer base as it looks to expand its autonomous technology offerings into quarry and aggregates and construction industries’ product lines with competitive offerings.
While Cat mining trucks have been around for generations, each new class brings cutting-edge technology built on a foundation of industry leadership, says the company.
Cat’s massive yellow machines are the heavy haulers of the mining industry. Their sheer size is daunting. And the fact that these trucks get the job done without an operator in the cab may seem magical or otherworldly to some.
Caterpillar has been investing in autonomous development for decades. From 1994 to 1995, Caterpillar ran the first two prototype Cat 777C autonomous mining trucks at a Texas limestone quarry, where they successfully hauled more than 5,000 production loads over a 2.6-mile course.
Then in 1996, MINExpo guests witnessed a live autonomy demonstration via satellite from Tinaja Hills Demonstration and Learning Center.
Today, as Caterpillar marks the world’s largest autonomous fleet of haul trucks – now numbering more than 500 machines – it’s not surprising that Cat claims it leads the industry in automation.
Cat says its engineering teams look to the future when developing onboard technology, and it partners with its customers to ensure its products and services are tailored to achieve its customers’ specific business goals and meet the industry’s most pressing needs.
Denise Johnson, president of Caterpillar’s resource industries group, says: “Congratulations to the Caterpillar team and our customers on reaching this impressive milestone.
“Having 500 driverless trucks in operation across the globe is tangible evidence of our ability to innovate and a clear indication of Caterpillar’s commitment to the future of mining.”
Johnson adds that Caterpillar has autonomous mine sites operating 24/7 on three continents.
Caterpillar says that, by the end of 2021, customers using Cat Command technology had hauled more than 4 billion tonnes and traveled over 145 million kilometers autonomously – “significantly more than any competitor”.
The company says customers across multiple industries are interested in autonomy, partly because driverless trucks are “safer and have up to 30 percent improved performance over those with operators”.
And the company says it’s still early days for autonomous technologies.
“We’re just getting started. By leveraging our deep expertise, we’re breaking new ground in autonomous equipment for mining, quarry aggregates, and construction industries and beyond.”