One of the greatest achievements in Caterpillar’s 90-year history is unfolding more than 16,000 kilometers (10,000 miles) away from its headquarters in the United States. Dozens of 793 trucks manufactured in Decatur, Illinois, USA, are hard at work at the Fortescue Minerals Group (FMG) Solomon iron ore mine in Western Australia’s remote Pilbara region—a large, dry, thinly populated region known for its ancient landscapes, red earth and vast mineral deposits.
But what makes this story so unique is not the remoteness of the mine, the massive size of the 793 trucks, or the tonnes of iron ore they haul. It’s the fact that these trucks are working autonomously—without human operators in the cab. Sophisticated on-board intelligence and advanced guidance technologies make it possible for these 227-tonne (250-ton) trucks to maneuver through mine-site traffic, back into loading points and navigate to dump sites—all without human intervention.
For nearly four years, Caterpillar worked with FMG to make this fully autonomous mine site a reality. But the journey to autonomy took much longer than that. Mining automation has long been a goal for Caterpillar, and it took a team of smart, dedicated people to acheive that goal.
This 25-minute documentary takes a look behind the scenes at the people, technology and innovation that are making the autonomy vision a reality. Highlighted throughout the film are the key milestones in the conception, development, production and commercial availability of autonomous trucks.