Caterpillar bets on self-driving machines impervious to pandemics

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Question: How can a company like Caterpillar CAT.N try to counter a slump in sales of bulldozers and trucks during a pandemic that has made every human a potential disease vector?

Jason Ramshaw, Commercial Manager for Caterpillar Construction Digital & Technology, demonstrates the Cat Command remote control console to operate a 320 excavator at Caterpillar’s Construction Industries EAME Sales Rally in Malaga, Spain, in an undated handout photograph. Caterpillar/Handout via REUTERS

Answer: Cut out human operators, perhaps?

Caterpillar’s autonomous driving technology, which can be bolted on to existing machines, is helping the U.S. heavy equipment maker mitigate the heavy impact of the coronavirus crisis on sales of its traditional workhorses.

With both small and large customers looking to protect their operations from future disruptions, demand has surged for machines that don’t require human operators on board.

Sales of Caterpillar’s autonomous technology for mining operations have been growing

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