One of the key themes in the automotive space at CES 2024 is earthmoving. Hyundai, Bobcat and Kubota have used CES 2024 to showcase their take on autonomous vehicles and systems to reduce emissions. 

Hyundai have their massive driverless excavator on display and it looks almost production ready. I suspect that this machine will initially be remote controlled (already relatively commonplace in many commercial applications) but more and more autonomous driving features will be added as the technology develops. 

Kubota showcased a driverless tractor that uses autonomous driver features and electric power to tend to crops and livestock at any time of the day or night.

Meanwhile, Bobcat also has a remote controlled loader but more interesting to me was an almost production ready skid steer loader that is completely electric. What do I mean? Well, by now we are really onboard with electric motors replacing internal combustion engines (diesel in the case of most skid steer loaders) but Bobcat have taken this idea a step further, replacing all hydraulic systems with electric actuators. The Bobcat on display has zero fluids! This is a game changer in terms of maintenance but also does away with the nightmare of small diesel engines self feeding (and then exploding) if they are tipped on their side – a real consideration given the uneven terrain that these machines operate in. Run time for the EV Bobcat is 8 hours and charging will take about the same.

When asked about the strength of electric actuators over traditional hydraulic systems the engineers at Bobcat explained that they actually had to ‘turn down’ the power of the electric motors as they kept bending the steel frame of the loader during testing! 

These things are strong, safe, silent and the future of small commercial vehicles. 

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