Cat’s Autonomous Haul Trucks Set a New Record

Jordanne Waldschmidt Headshot
Updated Apr 6, 2022
Caterpillar autonomous haul trucks in a mine
Surpassing the 4 billion ton mark with no lost-time injuries, roughly 1.3 billion ton of material were autonomously hauled in 2021 using Command for hauling.

Trucks equipped with Cat MineStar Command set a new record in 2021, moving more than 1 billion tons of material autonomously in less than a year.

Since 2013, hauling trucks with Cat MineStar Command have autonomously hauled more than 4.4 billion tons, and all without a lost-time injury, Cat says. To date, trucks equipped with the company’s autonomous haulage system have logged more than 91.3 million miles, nearly the same distance as traveling from Earth to the sun.

“Safety and sustainability continue to be top values in the mining industry. We are now entering our ninth year with zero loss-time injuries with Command for hauling, a testament to its safety record,” comments Marc Cameron, vice president, Caterpillar Resource Industries. “A recent five-year study by one of our customers autonomously hauling iron ore reported an 11% reduction in fuel usage – resulting in a 4,740 tons per year CO2 emissions reduction – 11% increase in hourly production, 50% higher maximum truck travel speed, and 35% improved tire life.”

Autonomous trucks equipped with Command for hauling are operating at 18 mine sites by 10 companies across three continents. Commodities autonomously hauled include iron ore, oil sands, copper, coal and gold.

Cat mining trucks capable of fully autonomous operation include the 789D, 793D, 793F, 797F and 794 AC with electric drive. Retrofit kits allow mining operations to expand Command for hauling to existing Cat mining trucks,  as well as other brands of trucks and loading equipment in their fleet.

“We continue to explore new avenues with Command for hauling to make strides toward the fully autonomous mine site and recently surpassed a major milestone of more than 500 autonomous trucks. Our previously announced collaboration with Newmont will introduce up to 16 autonomous trucks through 2023 at the company’s Cripple Creek and Victor mine in Colorado with plans to transition to haulage fleet electrification, supporting Newmont’s target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 30%,” says Sean McGinnis, general manager for Cat Mining. “We currently have in progress high-altitude and new product introduction projects for the smaller 98.4-ton size class. We have also expanded our Command system to Cat water trucks for haul road dust control at the mine.”

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Cat is working with Rio Tinto’s Gudai-Darri mine in Australia to deploy the world’s first autonomous water truck, the Cat 789D. Connected with Cat MineStar technology, Command for hauling on the 789D integrates the truck, tank and water delivery system (WDS). The Cat WDS delivers variable water flow based on truck speed, and the system’s variable displacement pump automatically starts and stops when the truck slows or comes to a halt, preventing overwatering and poor traction at intersections.