Autonomous trucks follow pre-programmed directions during a demonstration at Caterpillar’s Mining Technology Demonstration & Program.

Eighteen engineering students from the University of Arizona attended this year’s demonstration.

Nearly 75 miners attended Caterpillar’s Mining Technology Demonstration & Program this fall, where they got an inside look into the future of the mining industry. Eighteen engineering students from the University of Arizona, many of whom represent the future of mining themselves, were among them.

At the two-day event at Caterpillar’s Tinaja Hills Demonstration & Learning Center in Green Valley, Arizona, the company showcased the capabilities of their MineStar suite of hardware, software and services. For example, after a hydraulic shovel loaded up an autonomous Cat 793F truck with dirt, the pre-programmed vehicle traveled to a dump site, stopped in the right place, and spent the correct amount of time with the truck bed raised to dump out all the material before driving away.

The truck also showed off its safety features — including a 64-laser lidar system that gathers millions of data points a second — when it came to a complete stop to avoid hitting a light vehicle and a mannequin placed in its path. One guest had the chance to use the “A-stop” or “all-stop” device: a controller carried by on-site personnel that can stop all trucks within 984 feet with the push of a button.

Caterpillar has a long-standing relationship with the University of Arizona, including a rewarding partnership with the Engineering Design Program. The company and the UA also join forces on Mining 360, a certificate degree program for mining professionals, which just celebrated the graduation of its second cohort.

Caterpillar’s autonomous vehicles on display.