Recognizing that skid-steers are often used in settings where the operator either has an obstructed view or may be at risk, Caterpillar has developed RemoteTask, an aftermarket remote-control package for its D-Series skid-steer multi-terrain and compact track loaders.
Caterpillar isn’t the first skid-steer manufacturer to go remote; Bobcat currently offers a remote-control package for its loaders. But Cat’s system offers more than standard remote options. “All the cab functions of the machine can be replicated, except for the radio, the AC and the lights,” says Jeff Griffith, Cat marketing professional. “You can adjust hydraulic flow, engine rpm. There’s even a feature not found in the cab: proportional flow for the auxiliary hydraulics. This means you can really dial in work tools.”
Developed in partnership with Blacksburg, Va.-based Torc Robotics, the remote-control package has a 1,000-ft range and can be installed in under an hour. To activate remote operation, the loader’s ignition key is inserted into a slot on the rear of the machine, which also disables the cab controls.
“There are applications where you don’t want to put an operator in danger,” says Griffith, citing trenching and demolition as particularly hazardous.
Safety shutoffs prevent the loader from operating if it loses the signal, and there’s an automatic lockout if the control unit tilts more than 45°, halting the loader if the operator trips or falls. The control unit also features vibration feedback and audible alarms to alert the operator if a work tool is encountering problems.
RemoteTask is compatible with 14 of Cat’s 16 D-Series loader models and will be available in January 2016.