Caterpillar Inc. recently revealed the newest capabilities and improvements to its Komatsu 930E autonomous mining truck, developed with Torc Robotics, the latest move in the company’s efforts to develop autonomous mining vehicles.
“We want to do all we can to help our customers get the most out of their existing equipment assets,” Caterpillar Mining Technology product manager Sean McGinnis said in a press release. “Modernizing machines with new technology is a proven way to do that.”
The new capabilities integrate the full Cat MineStar suite, an autonomy solution developed by Caterpillar, which helps mines track their material, their fleets of semi-autonomous and autonomous vehicles, machine health and worker safety.
“We know that most mining operations are made up of equipment from multiple manufacturers,” McGinnis said. “By working with Torc to develop a solution that works on Komatsu trucks, we’re making it possible for our customers with mixed fleets to get the benefits of our proven autonomy solution. They can boost their equipment availability and overall productivity in the field. And, most importantly, they’ll reap the safety benefits that come from autonomy.”
The advancements are part of the company’s 930E retrofit program, announced in January, to provide the mining industry with autonomous options that will go on market at the beginning of 2019.
In addition, Caterpillar and Torc have been partners for more than a decade, and Caterpillar adopted Torc’s autonomous vehicle technology early after its introduction. The recent announcement continues that partnership forward.
“We are committed to increasing safety across all industries through the application of our autonomous technologies,” Torc CEO Michael Fleming said in the statement. “The work we’ve done with Caterpillar in mining is a testament to that promise.”
This comes as other companies are likewise looking for autonomous mining solutions to keep workers safe. Chilean mining company Enaex Group recently released an autonomous mining truck called the Mine iTruck and its observational RoboMiner robot.