Autonomous Vehicle

Assembly Line

Autonomous tractors plow path to the future at Caterpillar’s secluded Peoria Proving Ground

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🔖 Topics: Autonomous Vehicle

🏢 Organizations: Caterpillar

In another building, engineers wire up sensors to a Cat D5 bulldozer to take transmitted readings as it operates in the field, a sort of tractor electrocardiogram. Nearby sits the pride of Peoria, a hulking D11XE, a prototype of the first electric drive mining tractor.

The D11 mining tractor, the largest bulldozer Caterpillar makes, is built exclusively at its East Peoria factory. Launched in 1986, the 230,000-pound behemoth is a mainstay in mining and large construction projects. In October, the 6,000th D11 rolled off the production line, bound for an Australian customer site.

Caterpillar, which began experimenting with autonomous construction equipment nearly a decade ago, is one of several major companies developing it, along with Doosan in South Korea and Volvo Autonomous Solutions, which unveiled its new Swedish testing site in November. The potentially transformative technology is still in the early stages of commercialization.

Read more at Chicago Tribune

Self-Driving Vehicles Are Finding a Home in Industrial Operations

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✍️ Author: Paul Berger

🔖 Topics: Autonomous Vehicle, Autonomous Forklift, Warehouse Automation

🏢 Organizations: Kimberly-Clark, Newell, Third Wave Automation, Outrider

Kimberly-Clark credits hundreds of autonomous forklifts with helping the consumer-products company keep Kleenex facial tissue, Cottonelle toilet paper and other goods flowing to stores despite labor shortages during the Covid pandemic. Sharpie maker Newell Brands says the vehicles are helping deliver safety improvements and cost savings across the company’s operations.

Kimberly-Clark has more than 300 autonomous forklifts at its North American warehouses, up from about 30 in 2019, said Sarah Haffer, vice president of customer logistics for the company’s North America consumer division. Haffer said Kimberly-Clark’s warehouses with autonomous forklifts have provided some of the most consistent service levels to its retail customers. “We have been able to manage through Covid with real stability and beyond in terms of throughput and capabilities,” Haffer said.

Newell Brands, whose products also include Coleman outdoor recreation equipment and Rubbermaid food storage goods, uses more than 200 autonomous forklifts across its facilities. Newell Chief Executive Chris Peterson said robotic vehicles have reduced incidents of damage to goods and are delivering “significant cost savings.”

Read more at Wall Street Journal

Outrider releases latest AI-driven perception technology to accelerate yard automation

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🔖 Topics: Autonomous Vehicle, Yard Automation

🏢 Organizations: Outrider

Outrider’s latest perception technology identifies specific characteristics of yard actors, such as orientation, position, and velocity, anticipates their trajectories, and responds to their actions using predictable, human-like behaviors. Data collection from a wide variety of distribution yards feeds Outrider’s proprietary deep-learning models, which create the neural networks for the autonomous system to automate yard tasks with increasing intelligence and precision.

To enable the latest perception capabilities, Outrider updated its multi-modal sensor platform on each autonomous yard truck with over 3x the range and 10x the sensor data to achieve critical safety and performance objectives for scaled driverless operations.

Read more at Outrider Press Release

How Rio has made the world’s biggest iron ore business into a machine

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✍️ Author: Josh Chiat

🔖 Topics: Autonomous Vehicle

🏭 Vertical: Mining

🏢 Organizations: Rio Tinto, Caterpillar

Rio Tinto’s Gudai-Darri mine is one of three new wave DSO mines in operation across WA’s Pilbara alongside BHP’s South Flank and Fortescue’s Eliwana, while FMG also recently opened its Iron Bridge magnetite mine. At 43Mtpa, Gudai-Darri is among the most advanced in the world. Its diggers and loaders are manned, but its Caterpillar trucks are fully automated, run out of an operations centre in Perth with code to direct their passage across the 5km by 3km Kara pit. Of its 430 haul trucks across 17 mines, 361 are automated. For the first time, Caterpillar has also delivered autonomous water carts. The company says the unmanned vehicles deliver productivity and safety benefits. It is looking to enhance automation and bring a tech focus into other areas of the site.

This robot (or row-bit if you’re Futurama’s Dr Zoidberg) is being trained to use a thermal sensor to test idlers along the 5-7km of conveyor belt taking iron ore from Gudai-Darri’s crusher to its stockpiles. There are around 3000 idlers (spinning bits of metal that propel the conveyor along) for every km of belt. From early next year Rio’s engineers hope to have the robot automated, perpetually running a process manual assessors only complete in full every 12 weeks. By catching symptoms of failing idlers early, the company hopes to reduce the 60 hours of downtime each eight months from unplanned maintenance shutdowns at the fixed plant attributed to idler failure.

Read more at Stockhead

🧠🚚 Venti Aims To Bring Autonomous Vehicles To Ports, Factories And Airports

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✍️ Author: Bruce Rogers

🔖 Topics: Autonomous Vehicle

🏢 Organizations: Venti Technologies, MIT

Venti Technologies, based in both Singapore and Boston, Massachusetts, is helping to advance the category with its autonomous logistics for industrial and global supply chain hubs. The technology and algorithms behind Venti were invented by Dr. Daniela Rus, who is also the director of CSAIL—the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, which in the past has been the source of many start-ups representing some $2 trillion in revenue.

Preparing a container port of this size for the use of autonomous vehicles is no small technological feat. The container port is six kilometres on a side and Venti had to GPS map the facility down to a meter. Then, using mathematical modelling, deep learning, and theoretically grounded algorithms, Venti’s proprietary platform of autonomy technologies, including a suite of powerful logistics algorithms is deployed to automate the interactions between vehicles at one of largest and most technologically sophisticated ports in the world.

Read more at Forbes

Ford Cars Could Soon Drive Themselves Off the Assembly Line

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🔖 Topics: Autonomous Vehicle

🏢 Organizations: Ford

Ford is trialling AI-powered automated driving technology designed to make the process more efficient. For the project, vehicles not only drive themselves off the assembly line, they also self‑drive to final testing stations and self-charge before parking up ready for delivery to customers.

“Ford is reinventing its portfolio of vehicles in Europe and exploring how we produce our new EVs is integral to that process,” said Ford project lead Frank Schwarz. “Introducing self-driving technology to the assembly line could support efficiency and safety while enabling employees to focus on critical tasks.”

Read more at Ford Media

Caterpillar Announces Collaboration with Luck Stone to Scale Autonomous Solutions to the Aggregates Industry

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🔖 Topics: Autonomous Vehicle

🏭 Vertical: Mining

🏢 Organizations: Caterpillar, Luck Stone

Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) announced a collaboration with Luck Stone, the nation’s largest family-owned and operated producer of crushed stone, sand and gravel, to deploy Caterpillar’s autonomous solution to Luck Stone’s Bull Run Plant in Chantilly, Virginia. This will be Caterpillar’s first autonomous deployment in the aggregates industry and will expand the company’s autonomous truck fleet to include the 100-ton-class (90-tonne-class) Cat® 777.

Looking to accelerate autonomous solutions beyond mining, Caterpillar will implement its existing Cat® MineStar™ Command for Hauling system at the Bull Run quarry, on a fleet of 777G trucks. This will allow Caterpillar to gain greater insights on quarry operations in order to tailor the next generation of autonomous solutions specific to quarry and aggregate applications. This project supports the acceleration of autonomous technology for operations with fewer mobile assets to allow a step change in safety and productivity, as currently experienced at large mining operations.

Read more at Caterpillar News

Monarch Tractor Launches First Commercially Available Electric, ‘Driver Optional’ Smart Tractor

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✍️ Author: Scott Martin

🔖 Topics: Autonomous Vehicle

🏭 Vertical: Agriculture

🏢 Organizations: Monarch Tractor, Constellation Brands, NVIDIA

Local startup Monarch Tractor has announced the first of six Founder Series MK-V tractors are rolling off the production line at its headquarters. Constellation Brands, a leading wine and spirits producer and beer importer, will be the first customer given keys at a launch event today.

The debut caps a two-year development sprint since Monarch, founded in 2018, hatched plans to deliver its smart tractor, complete with the energy-efficient NVIDIA Jetson edge AI platform. The tractor combines electrification, automation, and data analysis to help farmers reduce their carbon footprint, improve field safety, streamline farming operations, and increase their bottom lines.

Read more at NVIDIA Blog

Pioneering autonomous road trains achieve world first

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🔖 Topics: Autonomous Vehicle

🏢 Organizations: Mineral Resources, Hexagon

Mineral Resources’ autonomous road trains project has reached a world-first milestone, achieving a successful demonstration run of a triple-trailer, automated road train platoon with each road train hauling 300 tonnes of iron ore.

The demonstration showcased the success of our autonomous road trains pilot project, which has been underway at our Yilgarn iron ore operations since late 2021.

MinRes has partnered with autonomy specialist Hexagon on the project, integrating Hexagon’s drive-by-wire technology with an autonomous management system to orchestrate vehicle movement.

Read more at Mineral Resources News