By Rajesh Kumar Singh

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Question: How can a company like Caterpillar try to counter a slump in sales of bulldozers and trucks during a pandemic that has made every human a potential disease vector?

Answer: Cut out human operators, perhaps?

Caterpillar’s autonomous driving technology, which can be bolted on to existing machines, is helping the U.S. heavy equipment maker mitigate the heavy impact of the coronavirus crisis on sales of its traditional workhorses.

With both small and large customers looking to protect their operations from future disruptions, demand has surged for machines that don’t require human operators on board.

Sales of Caterpillar’s autonomous technology for mining operations have been growing at a double-digit percentage clip this year compared with 2019, according to previously unreported internal company data shared with Reuters.

By contrast, sales of its yellow bulldozers, mining trucks and other equipment have been falling for the

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