Mitch Torrie and Dave Payne at the Open Technology Forum
Mitch Torrie speaks with Dave Payne at the Automotive Testing Expo 2014 NA Open Technology Forum in October.

Standing room only. Attendees congregated to a presentation at the Automotive Testing Expo 2013 North America by ASI's Mitch Torrie and Ford Motor Company's Dave Payne.

The presentation was part of the Expo's Open Technology Forum, which gives companies a platform to discuss advancements in the vehicle testing field. In the twenty minute session, Torrie and Payne shared insights, statistics, and answered questions about the recently announced Ford robotic durability testing program.

"This was definitely an area of interest," said Eric Budd, ASI Sales Manager who attended the session. "The presentation demonstrated some of the results that a major OEM is using to justify investment in automation technology. People want to see why."

"I was impressed by the data correlation that Ford brought," recalled Torrie.

The durability program was initially designed to protect drivers from prolonged exposure to punishing track conditions, but the correlation statistics from the session also established some evidence that robotic vehicles perform more consistently on the tracks than their human counterparts.

Human drives may slow down, brace for impact, or make other slight adjustments throughout a testing event that can cause variability in testing data. Robotic drivers are much less susceptible to these minor variations.

Torrie was also excited about the miles that automated test vehicles have driven at Ford's proving ground in Romeo, Michigan.

According to Ford's statistics, autonomous vehicles have been responsible for accumulating in excess of 48,000 miles across some of the most physically taxing track conditions Michigan has to offer.

"This technology is not a research project," explained Torrie. "It's accumulating thousands of miles per month and is a viable alternative to exposing human drivers to durability testing events."

The successful implementation of vehicle robotics at Ford's durability testing facility continues to capture the attention of the automotive testing industry. Ford and ASI engineering teams were recently honored by the Automotive Testing Technology International magazine with their Hardware Innovation of the Year Award.

In less than a month, robotics companies and enthusiasts from all over the world will gather at the Walter E. Washington convention center in Washington D.C. for one of the largest annual robotics tradeshows in the world. The Association of Unmanned Vehicles Systems International (AVUSI) hosts the 2013 edition of their Unmanned Systems Conference on August 12-15. Autonomous Solutions, Inc. (ASI) is excited to once again be an exhibiting sponsor at AUVSI. The following is a sneak peek at what you'll see at ASI's 2013 booth!

Universal Autonomy Platform
ASI will unveil a modified skid steer vehicle as it's universal base automation platform at AUVSI Unmanned Systems this year.

The modified skid steer's thin profile, versatility, and small footprint make it ideal for agriculture and orchard settings; its sturdy build and powerful lifting capacity also make it ideal for mining operations. Compared to other automation systems, the skid steer platform is inexpensive and will accept a variety of attachments making it the ideal choice for nearly any automation project.

Multi-vehicle Control Demo
Mobius™ command & control software is one of the most powerful solutions for multi-vehicle coordination available in the vehicle robotics market. However, barring a field trip to a military, farming, or mining installation running Mobius, the best way to demonstrate how it works on a multi-vehicle system is to bring an implementation to AUVSI!

ASI's 2013 booth will demonstrate how Mobius algorithms deal with multiple vehicles with a small scale mining automation demo.

As a side note, you can also see a vision-based indoor positioning solution developed by our research and development team to operate the demo in the convention center's GPS-denied environment!

New Look and Feel
Over the past several months, we've been working to implement a new rebrand that captures ASI's cutting edge technology and software solutions. We recently launched a new and improved website, videos, and social media networks, but for many, AUVSI Unmanned Systems 2013 will be the first look at ASI's new brand.

Come by and tell us what you think of our new look! We're excited for the opportunity to attend AUVSI once again. We're located directly in the middle of the exhibit hall at Booth #3027. ASI sales and engineering staff will be onsite to answer any questions you may have and discuss partnership and project opportunities. We look forward to seeing you there!

ASI goes global by attending their first internationally hosted tradeshow, the Automotive Testing Expo 2013 Korea. Eric Budd, Sales Manager for ASI's automotive division, flew half way around the world to join 114 other exhibitors at the first Automotive Testing Expo held in Seoul, Korea. The show was well-received with more than 4000 attendees eager to see the newest and most innovative technologies.

"There were lots of smiles and head nods," Budd said of the attendees that visited the PGA booth (#7027).

"They liked the technology that we have and were excited with the prospects. Several people brought their colleagues back later to show them what we could do. It's great to see that we have that kind of impact on the industry."

ASI's key product offering at the Korea show was the universal Nav™, a set of robotic components that can automate most consumer vehicle models. The kit is durable enough to withstand a constant beating from durability or rollover testing and uses standardized components and sensors to eliminate much of the cost of engineering.

The implications of a lower-cost, reliable autonomy kit were not lost on the attendees in Seoul, and Eric saw a steady flow of visits from automotive and construction OEMs, private proving grounds, government agencies, and automotive suppliers.

One challenge of selling in a global marketplace is the language barrier. "You can't just count on people knowing English," said Budd. "More than half of the people coming by our booth spoke no English at all. It was something we were semi-counting on, and we brought brochures printed in Korean, but it was still difficult to communicate what we do."

Despite the language challenges, PGA was well-received, and the show was a success. "We had a lot of excitement surrounding our booth," said Budd. "People all over the world recognize how beneficial vehicle automation technology can be to their industries, and that was reflective of the people we had come by and visit with us."

ASI now looks forward to two back-to-back shows in June: the Automotive Testing Expo 2013 Europe, hosted in Stuttgart, Germany; and the AUVSI Driverless Car Summit in Detroit, Michigan.

With more than 12 years of experience automating vehicles of all shapes and sizes, Autonomous Solutions, Inc. (ASI) has a lot to contribute to the robotics industry beyond just innovative technology. And that’s not something that is coming from us. Mel Torrie, President and CEO of ASI, continues to be a sought-after speaker for a variety of conferences, universities, and associations.

Since October, Mel has spoken or will speak at a variety of functions around the country:

Leadership Summit: Insights into Growing a Robotics Business:
Mel was one of the featured panelists in this session which discussed some of the things that entrepreneurs should be certain to address as they step into robotics. Other panelists included: Aldo Zini, CEO of Aethon and Lloyd Spencer, CEO of CoroWare. When to ship products, using customers to beta test and receive feedback, human resources, cash flow, and other issues were discussed by the participants. The following article from Henry Lenard of RoboBusiness goes more in depth on the session.

RoboBusiness Leadership Summit: National Robotics Initiative Discussion Panel (Keynote):
Mike Doyle, US Congressman and Co-Chair of the Congressional Robotics Caucus, was the main panelist at this session, along with Mel Torrie; Jan Westerhues of Robert Bosch Venture Capital; and Howie Choset, Professor at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. The session was focused on supporting US leadership in robotics research, development, and commercialization.

ROBOTS Podcast: Autonomous Solutions, Inc.:
Mel Torrie goes online with the Robots podcast series to explain some of the projects that ASI has been involved with and how ASI has navigated to success in the difficult economic environment of today. Based out of Switzerland, Robots is a bi-weekly podcast series that gathers insight and innovations from robotics professionals and companies from all around the industry.

On October 23-25, automobile testing manufacturers, supplies, domestic and international OEMs, and government officials from around the world converged on Novi, Michigan, for Automotive Testing Expo 2012 North America. Eric Budd, Sales Manager for ASI's Automotive division, attended the expo in Novi to demonstrate ASI's testing capabilities.

"Our second year at the Automotive Testing Expo was a great success," said Budd. "While the number of vendors and attendees was down at the conference overall, the number of quality visitors to our booth was definitely up."

Eric went on to explain that many peripheral companies withdrew from the expo due to financial burdens of the economy. Their absence only ensured the remaining exhibiting companies were highly targeted to automotive testing, a fact very much appreciated by the conference attendees.

"Our most asked-about feature was our ability to run multiple vehicles simultaneously on a single track—or multiple tracks for that matter—with only one controlling operator," said Budd.

ASI develops a version of Nav™ that allows a single operator to coordinate multi-vehicle testing scenarios, durability tests, and high speed or destructive rollover tests. The operator is stationed at a remote location and coordinates the vehicles with a combination of GPS guidance, RF command signals, visual displays, and vehicle health indicators. Automated vehicles at one proving ground location effectively interact with other autonomous or human-driven vehicles, or they can independently run separate tests at disparate locations around the proving ground.

Transferability was another key feature of Nav that drew a lot of attention.

"Our ability to move Nav between vehicles was well received by our visitors," said Budd. "They were impressed that transferring Nav is easy enough that it can be done by their own technicians, not ours, and that it can be done in one working day." Nav is comprised of a set of universal components that are easily transferred between vehicles and even different models of vehicles.

The Nav is in use by two of the Big 3 automotive OEMs and was the primary ASI product being shown at the Expo. "All around, a very beneficial show for ASI," said Budd of the Expo. "It was very beneficial for us, our customers, and our potential customers.”



LAS VEGAS, NEVADA—August 29, 2012. Executive and sales staff members of Autonomous Solutions, Inc. (ASI) were pleasantly surprised by a visit from Utah Governor Gary Herbert at the AUVSI Unmanned Systems North America 2012 Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. Governor Herbert visited Utah-based ASI and other Utah companies that were well represented at the largest domestic robotics conference of 2012.

"It was a thrill for our Governor to take the time to visit us and learn about our products and challenges," said Mel Torrie, President of ASI.

"Governor Herbert has been working diligently to make Utah the number one place to do business and we really believe it is. He's doing a superb job!"

Mel Torrie and Governor Herbert spoke at length about the products and solutions ASI offers for military, agriculture, industrial, and automotive proving ground partners as well as the challenges and successes of recent years. Governor Herbert seemed especially interested in ASI's Chaos™ High Mobility Robot, a unique small robot platform designed to traverse rugged terrain for applications in active combat zones, bomb disposal, exploration, and persistent surveillance.

During his time as Governor of Utah, Gary Herbert and his administration have been powerful proponents of making Utah a business-friendly environment. Utah currently holds the #2 ranking in CNBCs 2012 America's Top States for Business, improving from a #8 ranking in 2011.

"My first and highest priority will be the economy here in Utah," said Governor Herbert in his 2009 inaugural address. "If we can get the economy right, most everything else falls into place." Governor Herbert's continued focus on Utah's business setting is making it easier for companies like ASI to thrive in a challenging and competitive world economic environment.

# # #

About ASI

For nearly 14 years, ASI has been a world leader in unmanned ground vehicle systems. From their northern Utah headquarters, ASI serves clients in the mining, agriculture, automotive, military, and manufacturing industries with robotic solutions ranging from driver assistance to full, multi-vehicle autonomy. ASI's world-class engineering staff is dedicated to the ideals of innovation, safety, simplicity, and quality.

Cars driving themselves? It seems like something out of a Sci-fi movie like Will Smith’s 2004 hit, I, Robot. The concept might seem futuristic, but the attendees of the AUVSI’s Driverless Car Summit are trying to make it a reality.

In June 2012, more than 200 scientists, lawyers, engineers, policymakers, and corporations met in Detroit, Michigan, to discuss the possibilities of automated consumer vehicles on our highways by 2022. As one of the sponsorship attendees, Autonomous Solutions was able to send a member of our team, Eric Budd, to attend the sessions.

Below are Eric’s five key takeaways from the Driverless Car Summit (DCS) 2012:

Cultural Shift. In his opening address, Governor of Michigan, Hon. Rick Snyder, stated that one major obstacle to be addressed before autonomous consumer vehicles are accepted on public roads is cultural acceptance. The public as a whole still views automated vehicles either as a technology of the future or that isn’t reliable. What they may not realize is that autonomous vehicle technology already exists and is proven.

Driver assistance technologies like automated parallel parking and adaptive cruise control (known as ACC) are in the market today and bring us one step closer to cars that drive themselves.

A cultural shift doesn't happen overnight, so people are unlikely to believe the viability of automated consumer vehicles right now. But as car manufacturers implement proven driver assistance technologies, world culture will gradually shift from skepticism to acceptance of autonomous vehicle benefits.

Significant Benefits of Automation. From productivity to safety, automated vehicles provide many benefits to consumers. Chuck Thorpe, Assistant Director for Advanced Manufacturing and Robotics for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, stated that one of the most compelling benefits of autonomous technology is its ability to avoid accidents.

In 2010, automobile fatalities totaled 32,708. Many of these highway fatalities were caused by distracted, drowsy, or substance abuse impaired drivers.In addition, according to Dr. Steve Underwood, Director of the Connected Vehicle Proving Center, University of Michigan–Dearborn, statistics have shown that the average person will experience three to four vehicle accidents in their lifetimes with one of those accidents involving personal injury up to and including the death. On the contrary, projections have shown the use of autonomous vehicles could eliminate up to 80% of the vehicle fatalities, potentially making these technologies significant highway safety methods.