The Future of Off-Highway and On-Highway Autonomy

Concept of an autonomous bulldozer. Smart industrial machine

“Autonomy is the natural progression of the industry,” says Peter Bleday, Head of Autonomy, Incubation Division at Danfoss Power Solutions. Mining, construction, and agriculture have moved “from manual labor to pulleys to steam to hydraulics to electronics. We have now arrived at autonomy. Each step has had many benefits, but most of those have centered around productivity and safety. It’s the same for autonomy.”

With autonomous on-highway vehicles seemingly on the brink of becoming commonplace, why not just adopt those systems for off-highway use? “For on-highway, the objective is simple: don’t hit anything,” says Bleday. “That’s admittedly an oversimplification, but it does illustrate the difference to off-highway where equipment is constantly brought into proximity with other equipment.” Think of a wheel loader and a dump truck. The loader may be doing a V- or Y-pattern loading cycle and then operating within inches of the side of the truck. There is no parallel to that in on-highway vehicles. Off-highway autonomy requires communication between the machines on site but also requires each machine to possess what we would call “situational awareness in humans”.

There’s another important distinction. With on-highway, the design approach is to automate the vehicle. “With off-highway, it’s better to automate the application than the machine.” This is especially true for machines with great versatility, such as skid steer and compact track loaders, and small- to mid-size excavators. Danfoss has PLUS+1 Autonomy Solution software available for a wide variety of applications and is building additional software capabilities for such markets as specialty agriculture, airport ground support equipment, and road building. The Danfoss Autonomy team has also worked with OEMs in multiple industries to design and build autonomous and semi-autonomous systems.

For manufacturers and customers, regardless of their position in the industry, now is the time to come up to speed on what autonomy is, how it’s implemented, the benefits it offers, and the timeline for development and arrival in the marketplace.

Bleday’s presentation at the International Fluid Power Exposition 2023, Advancing Autonomy from Operator Assist to Driverless Vehicles session, will address all these topics. Both OEMs and end users will benefit from attending. Attendees will learn about the complexities and considerations of developing autonomous equipment. End users will learn what benefits they can enjoy by acquiring autonomous machines.


Co-located within CONEXPO-CON/AGG, IFPE provides an unmatched opportunity to harness the power of in-person connection. Engineers can meet with potential partners to discuss processes for streamlining the integration of sensors with hydraulic systems, all with the latest innovations in fluid power at their fingertips.

Learn more about the show and the endless possibilities that come with collaboration on the front lines of fluid power. Take advantage of discounted rates available and register for IFPE 2023 today

About the speaker

Peter Bleday joined Danfoss in October 2019. Since 2020 he has overseen the launch of the PLUS+1 Autonomy Solution. Before joining Danfoss, Bleday served as Engineer Officer on the nuclear-powered attack submarine, the USS Pasadena. He holds a B.S. in Chemistry from the U.S. Naval Academy, a MEM (Master of Engineering Management) from Old Dominion University, and an MBA from the Lally School of Management at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

IFPE’s comprehensive education program is the leading source for executives, engineers, manufacturing plant and operation leads, technicians, mechanics, and other fluid power professionals covering the latest technical topics and trends. Click here for more information.


Mark your calendar for IFPE, March 14-18, 2023, at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and take advantage of discounted rates available and register for IFPE 2023 today


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