Caterpillar has launched a project that will see the mining equipment manufacturer move further into autonomous technology.
The company aims to expand its development of autonomous mining truck technology to a larger range of models, including products built by other manufacturers.
At a company event in the United States, Caterpillar unveiled the initiative by outlining plans to adapt hardware and software for retrofitting the Komatsu 930E mining truck with Caterpillar autonomous technology.
According to Caterpillar, this interoperability initiative is driven by mining companies’ goal of reducing costs using their existing fleets.
“Retrofitting technology is a proven means for mining companies to get the most from their assets,” Sean McGinnis, Caterpillar product manager, command for hauling, said.
“And many mining companies operate mixed fleets of trucks. Developing autonomous systems for other brands of trucks will enable us to offer a total solution to these customers.”
Additionally, Caterpillar is expanding the number of its own truck models fitted for autonomous operation, with testing under way on the autonomous arrangement of the 797F, its largest truck with a 363-tonne payload capacity.
Other models are being evaluated while Caterpillar works with mining companies seeking ways to lower cost per tonne and enhance safety, the equipment manufacturer added.
The new autonomous trucks will join Caterpillar’s 793F CMD in the autonomous mining truck line.
Adoption of Caterpillar’s autonomous technology is proving effective in Australia. A large fleet of the 227-tonne-capacity trucks has achieved a 20 per cent productivity advantage over standard trucks working at an Australian iron ore mine, according to Caterpillar.
The fleet and support staff have also achieved zero lost time injuries since the first trucks started operating more than three-and-a-half years ago.