The largest truck in the world is about to become the largest robotic vehicle in the world. Scientists from Carnegie Mellon University have developed a robot to ‘sit behind the wheel’ and control the 700-tonne truck. The Caterpillar trucks were originally built to haul loads of up to 240 tonnes. The trucks will now be equipped with numerous high-tech gadgets and software to keep them on the road. Laser range finders and video equipment sweep the road ahead to find large objects. All of the information gathered is run through a computer program which tells the robotic driver to avoid the obstacle or not and by how much.
The technology was developed to reduce maintenance costs and increase productivity in the mining industry. “Mines are also dangerous, and removing humans from dangerous jobs will help save lives,” said Mark Campbell, a DARPA Urban Challenge participant from Cornell University. Unfortunately the technology will not be available on the common market any time soon, as the urban environment provides too many obstacles.