Perception is Everything

Emerging technologies play a vital role in profitable growth for Caterpillar. As a global leader, we strive to offer not only great products, but also solutions beyond the iron – the technology, data analytics and automation our customers expect and need. A key enabling technology for autonomy and automation products is the ability for a machine to “see” the environment around it by using electronic components and software. This technology is often referred to as “perception” and much of perception development is done at Caterpillar’s Pittsburgh Automation Center (PAC).

Engineers working at the PAC have extensive technology, robotics and perception knowledge providing expertise in automation, electronics and smart components. The team delivers software algorithms for data processing from components such as cameras and lidar, then creates useful information about the surrounding environment for higher level applications such as autonomy, safety and operator assist features.  It's technology to 'see' around the machine by detecting objects, people, foliage, terrain, infrastructure etc. Think of sensors on your car that detect hazards on the road or other cars in your lane – now picture that same type of technology – yet much more sophisticated on a 400-ton mining truck, operating 24/7 in some of the most rugged and remote locations of the world.

Denise Johnson, Group President of Resource Industries and Jean Savage, Vice President, Surface Mining and Technology Division recently participated in a Personnel Detect demonstration; using an engineering prototype of a smart camera. They also discussed with the Caterpillar team the benefits of our solutions reaching the field faster and in smaller packages as well as learning from any failures early.

“I am so impressed with the engagement of this team,” said Denise. “Customers are calling on us to solve some of their toughest and biggest challenges and the work done at the PAC, every day, helps meet those commitments. The passion for technology and perception truly transforms the way our customers experience Caterpillar machines.”

A Glimpse into the Pittsburgh Automation Center:

  • Located in the heart of the Pittsburgh robotics community the facility opened in October of 2017.
  • An 11,000 square feet facility with a 3,000-square foot mezzanine for future lab space expansion, and a high bay for real time field testing and validation.
  • We’ve partnered with the National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) in Pittsburgh to develop Autonomous Haulage Systems for large mining trucks for many years.
  • The location is a great pipeline for top talent—we hire world class talent from Carnegie Mellon University graduating in computer science, robotics, and computer vision.


Click to enlarge.

Our Culture

Search and Apply