During the third week of August, while the heat index soared to a suffocating 116°, GMLC’s Amanda Thibault and Sean Parker attended the iVT Off-Highway Vehicle Technology Conference & Expo in Chicago. The free-to-attend event was exclusive to Europe until 2022 and is growing in popularity in the US. Its main drive is to showcase the latest innovative technology for next-gen off-highway vehicles. On the show floor, we found 100 exhibitors set up adjacent to the National Pizza & Pasta Show because, of course, there was a pizza show in Chicago. There were also 50 educational sessions hosted by some of the industry’s leading experts and innovators.

Electrification and autonomy were core topics of several of the sessions. Dr. Arnold Free is the CEO of Traxara Robotics, a start-up specializing in haptic and motion applications. He says, “Studies into autonomy must be looked at in an operational context.” Jason Majchzak is a Senior Software Engineer with Moog Construction. His talk was about safe human-robot collaboration in construction work environments. He says, “The robotics construction market is poised for a significant transformation.” Majchzak’s presentation pointed to a recent large-scale solar project that utilized autonomous equipment. He says the technology increased speed, decreased material breakage, and had zero safety incidents. Colin Hurd, CEO of Mach, hosted a session about deploying off-road autonomy at scale. He emphasized that safety over productivity is paramount. Additionally, a proper risk assessment with field testing, must be completed before implementation. Mike Valerio of Caterpillar, spoke about the difficulties of implementing new technology, specifically remote control, and getting buy-in. He says it’s vital to focus on the people to influence their process. Additionally, utilizing a technology that can run a machine remotely from thousands of miles away introduces another way to train operators. He says, “Within 8 hours, an operator starts to feel comfortable and within 40 hours, they’re matching in cab productivity.”

When it comes to electrification, Derek Matthews of BAE Systems says, “In a well-established industry, electrification introduces a whole new learning curve that impacts every aspect.” He adds, “With a changing of philosophy, while we’re looking forward, we must also learn from the past.” Chris Andreuccetti, CNH’s Chief Engineer of Electrification, says they’ve hired 90 engineers and multiple other cross-functional teams, including some in legal, to assist with electrification. Katherine Sheriff is an attorney specializing in emerging technology sectors, including autonomous vehicles and AI. Sheriff, one of the first speakers of the conference, focused on tort liability of Unmanned Ground Vehicles. She says with the rapid transformation happening in the industrial vehicle industry, complex discussions are happening around liability for accidents. Adding, “Engineers must determine the appropriate severity and controllability ratings, based in part on the international standard ISO 12100.” Sheriff continues, “Environment matters. Engineers have to account for use and environmental factors and take into account several variables.”

Our highlight reel from the show can be found here and what you just read is a microcosm of this emerging tech. Each speaker stressed an incredible amount of ongoing research and testing as this technology continues its evolution. We’re excited to be along for the ride and will likely see you at iVT next year.

Before that, we’re excited to head to Louisville in September for the Utility Expo. It’s also possible some of the GMLC squad travels to the Gateway to the South for the Scrap Expo, but we’re still ironing out those details.

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