The Elements of Innovation Discovered

Cat shows off techier side at CES 2021

Features 1.4-million-lb self-driving trucks at electronics show Metal Tech News – January 20, 2021

Best known for the brawn of the enormous earthmoving machines it manufactures for mining operations around the globe, Caterpillar Inc. showcased its brainy side during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2021 held from Jan. 11 to Jan. 14.

"People may ask why a manufacturing company like Caterpillar has decided to participate in CES," said Denise Johnson, president of the Caterpillar resource industries group. "The real question is 'why not?' We're proud of our reputation for building some of the biggest, most productive machines in the world. But the technology that goes along with those machines is built by Caterpillar, too."

While 2021 marks the first time Caterpillar showed off its techier side at CES, the heavy equipment manufacturing company has been investing in the development of best-in-class mining technology solutions for more than three decades.

This behind-the-scenes work has culminated in Cat MineStar Solutions, a suite of cutting-edge mining technologies that keeps its yellow iron moving more efficiently, while making mining operations safer, more productive, and profitable.

This suite includes software and hardware that tracks the health of Caterpillar equipment, improving and preventing failures that can lead to costly downtime and repairs. Cat's tech solutions also look after the wellbeing of the people in and around its machines with proximity and collision alert monitors, and fatigue-detection technology that helps keep equipment operators from falling asleep during long and monotonous tasks.

The centerpiece of Cat MineStar Solutions, though, is the autonomous technology that has been developed that eliminates the need for humans from needing to drive to point A to be loaded with rock and then to point B to dump the rock, repeatedly over the course of an eight- or 12-hour shift.

Recognizing that autonomous haulage could significantly improve safety and productivity at mines, Caterpillar first began resource into self-driving trucks in the 1980s. The company's first prototype autonomous truck began running its paces at a rock quarry in the 1990s and Caterpillar's first official MineStar Command haul trucks began operating in 2013.

Today, Caterpillar has more than 350 self-driving trucks operating around the clock on three continents. The brawniest of these beasts is the Cat 797f, an autonomous haul truck that is as large as a 3,000-square-foot, two-story home and weighs in at an incredible 1.38 million pounds, fully loaded.

The autonomous trucks Cat has delivered to global customers have traveled more than 56 million miles, equivalent to roughly 2,250 trips around the Earth, and moved more than 4.9 trillion pounds of material, enough to build a six-foot-thick four lane highway to make those trips around the Earth - all without a single lost-time injury.

While automating the enormous haul trucks that carry out repetitive tasks was an obvious first step, Caterpillar has expanding this technology to other equipment as well.

"We provide solutions that automate dozers, drills, underground loaders, and even trains – and the list is growing all the time," the company said during a video presentation at the all-virtual CES 2021 event.

"The CES show is filled with innovators who are always looking for the next technology breakthrough," said Johnson. "We're proud to be on that journey, too. But while we continue to innovate for the future, the technologies Caterpillar has developed are doing real work and delivering real results to our mining customers every day."

Cat's electronics show debut at CES 2021 was not just about showing off its massive earthmoving machines and the technology that is driving them. The company also took advantage of this global gathering of technologies brightest innovators to build partnerships and attract talent.

"We are committed to making investments in technology research and development," said Johnson. "We need the best and the brightest engineers, developers and tech experts to help us turn those investments into solutions for our customers."

Author Bio

Shane Lasley, Metal Tech News

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With more than 16 years of covering mining, Shane is renowned for his insights and and in-depth analysis of mining, mineral exploration and technology metals.


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