The Robotics Institute will adapt over a decade’s worth of its own research into self-driving vehicles for use with Caterpillar’s two largest haul trucks, each with payload capacities in excess of 240 tons.
This is the first major project resulting from a three-year master agreement for sponsored research signed last year by Carnegie Mellon and Caterpillar, a manufacturer of construction, mining and other heavy equipment.
Researchers at the Robotics Institute’s National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) will work closely with Caterpillar’s
Tony Stentz, principal investigator and associate director of the NREC, said: ‘We’ve assembled a great team of people from across the institute who are excited to play a major role in delivering this groundbreaking capability.’
The driverless haul truck is part of an autonomous mining haulage system that Caterpillar recently announced it is developing with BHP Billiton.
Plans call for autonomous trucks to be integrated into some BHP Billiton mine sites by 2010. The autonomous technology is designed to provide productivity gains through more consistency in processes.
The Carnegie Mellon team will adapt perception, planning and autonomous software architectures originally developed for the US Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s (DARPA) UGCV-PerceptOR (UPI) autonomous vehicle programme and the DARPA Urban Challenge robot race.
Caterpillar was a major sponsor of the Carnegie Mellon Tartan Racing team that won the $2m Urban Challenge race in
Gwenne Henricks, vice-president of Caterpillar’s Electronics and Connected Worksite Division, said: ‘This is a perfect example of how Caterpillar’s long-term relationship with Carnegie Mellon can strengthen our position as the industry’s technical leader.’