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Remote Control Excavation, Autonomous Hauling & More – #CES2023

Click above to watch an interview talking about Caterpillar’s CES2023 demonstrations

Opening up the workforce to those who are physically unable to drive or control a tractor, excavator, or dump truck is one of the benefits of Caterpillar’s latest generation of products. At CES2023, Alan Pumklin, Market Professional, Autonomy and Automation for Caterpillar, gave Viodi a tour of some of their Cat® Command offerings. In short, these solutions are making it possible to abstract the control and management of their mighty machines from the dirty and important work these amazing implements perform.

The products on display encompass remote control, semi-autonomous and autonomous solutions. Specifically,

  • Remote excavation in Illinois using a controller in their booth using at Command for Excavating. This is called line-of-sight, as the operator is directly controlling the task of the machine located 1,000+ miles away.
  • Semi-autonomous operation whereby one operator can manage up to four machines thanks to 2D computer-generated imagery and real-time terrain mapping through a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). The operator may still intervene and control the vehicles as needed if plans change.
  • The Cat Command for Hauling is their autonomous offering. This multiple-story vehicle was impossible to miss. With 64 lasers, radar, cameras, and GNSS for precise location, the electronic sensors, compute power, and the associated software replace the human driver. Caterpillar suggests that this product offering results in zero lost time due to injury, a 30% boost in productivity, and a 20% cost reduction.

The impressive thing about Caterpillar’s CES offerings is that they are in the field generating revenue for their owners. The Operational Design Domains (ODD) are restricted to non-public sites, but, as Caterpillar points out, they operate within existing mines (see flexibility tab).

Interview Highlights #

00:30 – Pumklin welcomes Viodi to the Caterpillar booth.

00:59 – The tour starts with an overview of Caterpillar’s line-of-sight, remote-control product. Remote control of a 320 excavator by show attendees is the first demonstration. One of the things impressive benefits of this feature is that the operator could be in a wheelchair.

03:28 – There are huge operational and training advantages because the human-machine interface is decoupled from the implement that is doing the work.

06:12 – Connectivity, particularly on-site to points of presence, is an important requirement for making these solutions work.

07:49 – The tour moves to a station that is managing semi-autonomous, D10 dozers in an Arizona mine.

11:15 – Managing and monitoring versus operations is the role of the remote operator for semi-autonomous Caterpillars. The tour then turns to Caterpillar’s fully autonomous solution.

12:45 – Even though these enormous dump trucks are driverless, they have several ways to communicate with humans.

15:34 – Autonomous technology reduces variability says Pumklin. They are also getting faster at implementing the technology. Caterpillar indicates it took two to three years (Velocity tab) to reach full productivity with its first implementation. Their latest implementation took only 10 months.

Author Ken Pyle, Managing Editor

By Ken Pyle, Managing Editor

Ken Pyle is Marketing Director for the Broadband Forum. The mission of this 25+-year-old non-profit “is to unlock the potential for new markets and profitable revenue growth by leveraging new technologies and standards in the home, intelligent small business, and multi-user infrastructure of the broadband network.”

He is also co-founder of Viodi, LLC and Managing Editor of the Viodi View, a publication focused on the rural broadband ecosystem, autonomous vehicles, and electric aviation. He has edited and produced numerous multimedia projects for NTCA, US Telecom and Viodi. Pyle is the producer of Viodi’s Local Content Workshop, the Video Production Crash Course at NAB, as well as ViodiTV. He has been intimately involved in Viodi’s consulting projects and has created processes for clients to use for their PPV and VOD operations, as well authored reports on the independent telco market.

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