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Safety is ASI's number one priority. Requesting a safety audit from HORIBA MIRA helps ASI evaluate and enhance its internal processes to ensure that rigorous international safety standards are continually in place to be met.Safety is ASI's number one priority. Requesting a safety audit from HORIBA MIRA helps ASI evaluate and enhance its internal processes to ensure that rigorous international safety standards are continually in place to be met.

ASI is pleased to have been audited by an external auditor Dr. David Ward of HORIBA MIRA. ASI engineering processes were reviewed over a period of 4 days this summer and the approach to the functional safety of our products was assessed against a range of international functional safety engineering standards including IEC 61508, ISO 26262, ISO 17757 and ISO 13849.

“It’s a pleasure working with HORIBA MIRA and David Ward. He’s a professional of the utmost integrity and patience, always pragmatic and extremely knowledgeable in a broad range of sectors including Mining, Security, Agriculture and Automotive where ASI customers are realizing huge savings and productivity improvements through using our products and services,” says Jonathan Moore, ASI Chief Engineer.

“As autonomous solutions become more widespread in automotive and industrial applications it’s important that we demonstrate their dependability, compliance with functional safety standards is an important aspect of demonstrating a rigorous approach to product design and implementation,” says Dr. David Ward, HORIBA MIRA.

“It’s encouraging to see a technology innovator embodying these principles as part of their core engineering processes.”




ASI Steering Robot on a Ford F-150

ASI’s Automation Kit will be featured on cable TV’s popluar show Translogic. The episode will air on Velocity some date in the near future, click the link below to see the clip now.

Translogic producer, Jonathan Buckley, takes a ride in a Ford truck that has no driver. Instead, it is equipped with one of ASI’s automation robots.

Ford uses ASI’s driverless solutions on vehicles at their Michigan proving ground on tracks designed to put vehicles through the toughest of tests. These tests can be abusive on human drivers and there are limits to how long a driver can operate a vehicle on these types of tracks. So using these automation kits for Ford provides safe, accurate, and repeatable results.

See ASI’s Automation Kit in action at the Ford Proving Grounds.


One of the three autonomous building blocks, Mobius control software will allow miners to control vehicles from a remote location, improving both safety and productivity.

Most mining companies have a general understanding that autonomous mining technologies will help their operations make improvements in safety and productivity, but when it comes to specifics of how this is accomplished, many remain in the dark. How will our processes change? How will mine safety improve? How will my job get easier?

In effort to help miners understand the capabilities and day-to-day impact of autonomous vehicle technologies, ASI released a video that introduces one of our autonomous building blocks, Mobius control software.

Miners with autonomous haul trucks can leverage Mobius to keep haul trucks continuously tasked in a load/dump cycle, monitor safety concerns and vehicle diagnostics, and manage multiple haul trucks with one operator.

Mobius is designed to be a stand-alone control software or can be coupled with ASI's other building blocks, Nav and Vantage, for a seamless autonomous haulage system.

Watch Mobius for Mining today and learn how you can put your mine at the leading edge.


ASI explores how automation plays into Deloitte's 2015 mining report."If mining companies hope to emerge from the downward cycle in a stronger position from which they entered it, they need to... adopt innovative technologies used in other industries in a measured and risk-intelligent way..." Glenn Ives, American Mining Leader, Deloitte Canada.

In one of the world's most challenged industries, the outlook remains uncertain for mining in 2015 as it faces increasingly strict government regulations, financial turmoil, and reduced access to resources. However, in their Tracking the Trends 2015 report, Deloitte identifies ten trends that will shape the industry's challenges and provides insight on how miners can leverage these trends to come out on top. This article will explore the two trends that are directly affected by autonomous mining technologies.

Trend: Back to the Basics - the pursuit of operational excellence

After experiencing years of plenty, the mining industry experienced productivity declines "due to structural labor market forces, elevated input costs, critical shortages in energy and water, declining ore quality, and a legacy of inefficient capital allocation," explained Deloitte.

Among the suggested solutions, Deloitte identified insourcing vehicle maintenance to reduce expenses lost to outside contractors and suppliers. Eighty percent of Australian mining companies surveyed are looking to bring maintenance in-house.


Access the full Deloitte Tracking the Trends 2015 mining report.

ACCESS REPORT


Automation reduces maintenance costs by enabling operators to control vehicles within the OEM recommended spec, something not always possible with human drivers. Eliminating variability that exceeds OEM thresholds can stop maintenance issues before they start.



The Haulage A.I. tracks and manages multiple vehicles so an operator does not have to.Canada is one of the only countries in the world that commercially mines oil sands, and is also one of the areas that could benefit from mining vehicle automation.

Canada boasts some of the largest oil sands deposits in the world. "Oil sands" refers to sand or clay that is heavily saturated with a viscous type of petroleum called bitumen. Near-surface deposits are extracted using traditional mining methods and hauled to cleaning facilities where the bitumen is removed from other sediments. Separated bitumen is piped downstream for upgrading and refinement into petroleum products.

With nearly 55% of Canadian crude production coming from oil sands, advances in extraction and refinement technologies, and lower commodity prices, oil sands are gaining more attention as a global petroleum resource. They also represent one of the major areas that autonomous vehicle technologies can be used to assist the oil and gas industry.

ASI's CEO, Mel Torrie, who was recently quoted in Mining Equipment Technology's article "Mine of the Future?," said autonomous mining equipment can reduce wear and tear on vehicles as they operate within the OEM recommended spec, reducing unscheduled maintenance and replacement of expensive parts, particularly tires.

Interested in learning more about autonomous haulage for oil sands? Access our Vehicle A.I. flyer.

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"Tests have shown tires last three times longer with autonomous vehicles than with ones operated by drivers," says Torrie.



The Haulage A.I. tracks and manages multiple vehicles so an operator does not have to.ASI's Haulage A.I. tracks and manages each vehicle in the haulage system and manages the most critical vehicle functions so that workers don't have to.

Anglo American's recent announcement of their partnership with Autonomous Solutions, Inc. to develop robotic haulage solutions highlights a global interest of mining companies in robotics. Vehicle automation helps drive down costs and improve safety; however, as mines begin adopting vehicle automation technologies, they are often met with software or hardware systems that are complex and difficult use. These types of challenges shackle an organization's scalability and make it more difficult to justify the cost of automation.

In contrast, a new module for ASI's Mobius™ command and control software, the Haulage A.I., is designed to be simple to use.

By leveraging advanced algorithms, the Haulage A.I. automatically tasks multiple robotic vehicles, freeing up operators to handle more vehicles or to perform other critical tasks.

While robotic control software may be capable of accomplishing these tasks, a single operator maintaining proper vehicle spacing, managing a queue, and dynamically positioning the loading and dump areas would quickly become overburdened. The Haulage A.I. tracks and tasks each vehicle in the haulage system and manages each of these interaction areas. The burden of plotting dynamic paths, vehicle interactions, and queuing is handled in a hands-off manner by the software system.



A 2014 Ford Transit Van drives on a proving ground in MichiganASI's robotic durability testing technology helps Ford perform test events that are too taxing for human drivers. Recent talks have shown the European automotive market is also highly interested in proving ground automation.

Members of ASI's sales and product development teams recently returned from attending the Automotive Testing Expo 2014 Europe held in Stuttgart, Germany. Testing engineers and OEMs from all over the world gather at the Europe Expo to discuss the latest technologies that will make automotive testing safer and more efficient. ASI representatives were able to establish relationships with European-based OEMs that are looking to vehicle robotics as a testing solution and identify key technology trends in the automotive industry.

The following discusses some of the industry trends ASI representatives discovered at the Expo and how these trends impact proving ground automation.

Impact of Emissions Regulations.

In past years, manual transmissions dominated the European vehicle market due to lower production cost and higher fuel efficiency. However, as European countries sharpen their focus on reducing vehicle emissions (in the form of severe fines for noncompliance), OEMs are responding by producing more vehicles with automatic transmissions which allow the OEMs greater control over shifting and fuel consumption.

This is good news for ASI's vehicle automation technologies that are highly effectively with automatic transmissions.





ASI's Forge completes robotic mowing tasks in a California vineyardASI's Forge robotic platform completes robotic mowing tasks in a California vineyard. Robotic farming technologies help specialty crop growers deal with challenges such as labor and safety.

It's amazing to think that the food on your table today was growing somewhere else in the world just few weeks or even days ago. This is certainly the case for fresh fruits and vegetables that farmers often hand-harvest to prevent bruising and leverage local distribution networks to prevent spoilage.

Specialty crops... create an entirely new set of challenges for farmers.

Despite the challenges, according to the USDA's Economic Research Service fruits and nuts account for around 13% of US crop receipts, equating to a staggering $18 billion annually.



Fruits, nuts, and vegetables are part of a produce group called "specialty crops," defined by the Specialty Crop Competitiveness Act of 2004 as "fruits and tree nets, vegetables, culinary herbs and spices, medical plants, as well as nursery, floriculture, and horticulture crops."

Legally, specialty crops are separate from other commodity crops like grains and soybeans by a difference in government subsidies, but they also require many "special" considerations such as land, climate, farming techniques, labor, and marketing agreements that create an entirely new set of challenges for farmers.



ASI's Forge rolls through a vineyard in CaliforniaASI's Forge robotic platform rolls through a vineyard in California. Forge's narrow build and powerful pulling capacity make it an ideal technology of the future for specialty crops applications.

Over the past several months, we've had a variety of discussions and site visits with farming groups. From these conversations, we've identified several key challenges that most growers now face.

ASI is working to redefine the term "precision agriculture"

Some of these challenges are more geographical, like the severe drought conditions in the Central Valley of California; and some challenges are felt by all, like labor shortages and lower crop margins. Bottom line, the future of agriculture is changing and will continue to change over the next two decades.

Where are we right now?

As growers face the challenges of modern farming, they are turning to technology as a remedy. We saw a variety of new products and features at the World Ag Expo 2014 in February 2014, demonstrating how companies are focusing on advancing existing technologies like "precision farming." Recent political priorities have caused many government opportunities to dry up for US military contractors, causing them to look for other applications for their products.

In just the past two years, we've seen a substantial increase in the use of aerial drones in farming.



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ASI's exhibit at one of the largest unmanned vehicle conferences in the world attracted robotics enthusiasts from multiple industries to see the latest in vehicle automation technology.

Business development personnel from Autonomous Solutions, Inc. returned this past week from a sunny Orlando, Florida, where AUVSI recently concluded its Unmanned Systems 2014 conference. The booth at this year's AUVSI proved to be one of ASI's most impactful exhibits to date and included a wide variety of videos, new products, vehicles, and even a concept command center.

Vehicle Control Unit

ASI's booth highlighted the launch of a new vehicle control unit (VCU). The VCU is the onboard computer in an autonomous vehicle that manages critical vehicle functions like positioning, transmission, acceleration, brake, and steering, while also relaying vehicle health data to the remote operator.

The new design has improvements in size, weight, and computing power over previous models and now houses the software pieces that control autonomy and obstacle avoidance. The new VCU design will soon be adopted into ASI's vehicle automation offerings across all industries.

Forge

Released during last year's AUVSI conference, the Forge robotic platform was back again, this time with a massive gripper attachment capable of retrieving and manipulating barrels, trees, and other large objects.