Long before the prospect of self-driving cars and trucks burst on the scene, engineers at Caterpillar and Komatsu were working on the development of autonomous mobility.

From self-driving mining trucks to remote-controlled bulldozers, the expertise and innovations born out of Greater Peoria are unparalleled and unprecedented in the autonomous industry.

Caterpillar, which introduced its first autonomous truck in 1996, was also heavily involved in the DARPA autonomous vehicle challenges in 2004 and 2005.

Sam Kherat, a long-time employee at Caterpillar, was part of the team that rode to victory in those challenges. He's now an adjunct professor of robotics at Bradley University.

"The future of transportation has to be autonomous," said Kherat, citing safety and economic reasons. He believes that autonomous future can and should run through central Illinois.

AutonomouStuff’s Baidu Apollo Test Vehicle

AutonomouStuff’s Baidu Apollo Test Vehicle

"We're surrounded by companies that have had success with autonomous vehicles," he said, noting that Morton's AutonomouStuff in partnership with NexMobi and the Illinois Autonomous Vehicles Association, plans a conference devoted to self-driving mobility later this year in Peoria.

Today, our history along with the global growth of autonomous vehicle technology has positioned our region as a hotspot of talent, resources and expertise not found elsewhere in world.

But don't think that self-driving vehicles will become a reality simply as a result of the right software or hardware. Plenty of challenges lie ahead before we give up the wheel, including figuring out difficulties that could be a result of winter weather as well as the impact of autonomy on areas like advertising, policing and insurance.

At the end of the day we'll need all the talent, resources, and expertise that this region has to offer in order to come up with the right answers. But our track record and history indicates that we’re the ones best positioned to answer the call.

Learn more about AutonomouStuff by visiting their website at: https://autonomoustuff.com or connect with us via the form below to get more information about opportunities in the autonomous mobility space.

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