FARGO — Bobcat engineers and designers are working on remote-controlled compact equipment, remote monitoring and autonomous operation — new technologies that are under development at its new downtown innovation center.
The Studio, the opening of which was announced Tuesday, Oct. 15, is Doosan Bobcat’s data innovation center, which brings together engineers, innovation specialists and marketing staff to develop products using emerging technologies.
The offices occupy 11,000 square feet in two adjoining floors in the Black Building, the 1930-vintage downtown landmark that is being renovated by Kilbourne Group at 118 Broadway.
Why choose downtown Fargo?
“Really the answer is about a transformational change,” said Joel Honeyman, Bobcat’s head of global innovation. “It’s important for us to connect with the tech community here in Fargo-Moorhead and the greater region.”
Technological cross-pollination can happen in an area that brings together diverse technological firms, including Microsoft and Bushel, formerly Myriad Mobile, Honeyman said.
Bobcat teams also can mix with academic centers, including the North Dakota State University Research and Technology Park where the innovation staff opened a center 13 years ago.
“Silicon Valley just came to Fargo,” Honeyman said.
Mike Ballweber, Doosan Bobcat’s North America president, noted the company’s deep roots in North Dakota, which span six decades.
“We have a rich history in the state of North Dakota and Fargo-Moorhead specifically,” including its headquarters in West Fargo. The compact equipment industry, in fact, was invented in North Dakota, he said.
The Studio will combine engineers with employees involved in product management, innovation and marketing, he said.
Scott Park, chief executive officer of Doosan Bobcat, called opening the innovation center “another milestone for us,” and said it will play an important role in the company’s future.
“We’re here to reinvent,” Park said. “We’re here for the next 60 years.”
Innovations that will be developed by teams Bobcat’s Studio will help drive the future of the compact equipment industry, he said.
“This building here is going to be a cornerstone for all of that,” Park added.
To encourage cross-pollination of ideas among diverse technology firms, Bobcat is working with Emerging Prairie to host a series of peer group sessions to exchange ideas, Honeyman said. Bobcat also will be sponsoring innovation challenges “to get the best and brightest ideas from people,” he added.
New product announcements incorporating emerging technologies are forthcoming from Bobcat, Honeyman said.
Those include a remote-control smartphone app to operate a loader, “telematics” to allow wireless remote monitoring of equipment and even autonomous operation of equipment, Honeyman said.
“That development work is being done here in conjunction with our other sites,” he said.
Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney welcomed the innovation center to downtown Fargo, noting that it could have gone to another city, perhaps even a Boston or San Francisco, and said it will help to draw other technology firms downtown.
“This is a big notch for Fargo,” he said. “I’m very pleased that you’ve chosen this spot to be.”