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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.



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ASI's robotic Ford Escape was featured at July's Cache Valley Robotics Fair. The event is one of the only places in the world to get a ride in a fully autonomous vehicle.

Amid years of rich aviation history displayed at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon, the Precision Farming Expo (PFE) held its second annual meeting. The conference agenda included presentations on issues and trends in agriculture, and growers came from as far away as California and Canada to explore an international lineup of emerging technologies in the exhibit hall.

Making its first appearance in the rich orchard and vineyard region of the Pacific Northwest, ASI's Forge showed growers the benefits of farming robotics.

"It was great to meet growers and hear their concerns," said Matt Droter, Product Owner for ASI. "They're interested in seeing our technology work and discussing how it can help them." Many attendees were familiar with the precision agriculture technologies in current OEM vehicles but were excited to see robotics making headway.

"People didn't know or were even surprised to find out that we have the capability of running driverless," said Droter. "One grower said his biggest challenge was spraying 1500 miles of orchards in five days at two miles per hour. That's a fairly common scenario, particularly in specialty crops, and it's something that can be done robotically."

Mel Torrie, ASI’s President and CEO, gave one of the keynote presentations in the Evergreen Museum's IMAX theater. His session "Changing Gears: How Robotics is Revolutionizing the Way We Grow," gave growers a window into how farming automation is already making positive impacts on efficiency, safety, and yields.

"Most people are surprised when we tell them that we have driverless vehicles out doing productive work for farmers today. Our customers are already coming up with new ways to leverage robotic technology to gather data and change how they grow their crops."


In recent field trials at ASI's corporate testing facility in Petersboro, Utah, autonomous dozers took to the mountainside, performing robotic area clearance and slot dozing patterns.

Over the past few weeks, ASI's mining team entered the testing phase for a robotic dozer project. The team executed a slot dozing and area clearance demonstration at ASI's headquarters near Mendon, UT. Despite some early Spring weather setbacks, the mining team has been pleased with the results.

The technology used to convert this dozer from manual to robotic control is similar to what ASI used to automate more than 70 different vehicle types including mining vehicles, farming equipment, consumer vehicles, and even ATVs. The "kit" consists of NAV™ (the onboard computer and communications system), Vantage® (obstacle detection and avoidance features), and Mobius™ (command and control software).

Together, these components form a universal automation solution for vehicles of all shapes, sizes, and applications.

Due to its dedication to miner safety and the productivity implications of automation, the mining industry is one of the most progressive markets in deploying robotic technology. ASI has implemented robotics on a variety of mining platforms including dozers, excavators, rigid haul trucks, articulated dump trucks, and drills.

The video shows the robotic dozer testing in action (look close, there's no driver!).

For more information, fill out the form at the bottom of this page or contact an ASI representative.


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ASI's booth at the SME 2014 Annual Meeting featured the Forecast® 3D laser and a miniature haul truck demo to show visitors how automated vehicles interact in a mine.

In late February, ASI joined 500+ exhibitors and more than 6500 attendees at the Salt Palace Convention Center, Salt Lake City, Utah, for the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (SME) annual meeting.

Members of ASI's mining team, as well as sales and marketing staff participated in the exhibit hall and technical sessions, including a session dedicated to the Bingham Canyon Mine cleanup efforts. Kennecott operators have been using ASI automated excavators since about June 2013 to remove debris from the most dangerous locations on the slide area.

Command & Control
Visitors to ASI's exhibit booth found a miniaturized display of a load/dump cycle that is being developed for mines internationally. The miniature dump trucks, controlled by Mobius, rolled around a small track to demonstrate how robotic mining equipment can perform complex tasks and interact with other automated vehicles.

"It's difficult to give people at an expo the immersive experience they need to see how our software works," said Dru Brown, ASI's Event Coordinator.

"We wanted to give people something a little more tangible; something that would help them draw the connection to what this system looks like and how it works in an authentic mining environment."

Safety
With the risk of falling debris, landslides, and other large equipment, safety remains a major issue for an industry that is considered one of the world's most dangerous.

To combat these challenges, every vehicle that ASI automates is equipped with several safety layers from sensors to software.





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ASI's Forge™ robotic platform stole the show in Tulare as it rolled through a mock orchard to demonstrate autonomous spraying for orchard and vineyard applications.

Largest Tradeshow to Date

On February 11-13, marketing and sales representatives opened what would be Autonomous Solutions' (ASI) largest tradeshow presence to date at the World Ag Expo in Tulare, California.

Located in California's Central Valley, the World Ag Expo is one of the premier events in the farming industry, and draws the attention of many local specialty crop growers. The annual expo reports attendance in excess of 100,000 to see more than 60 acres of exhibits and is a frequent stop for political figures and major growing operations. ASI's 40' x 320' booth space featured a 40' exhibit and a 272' mock orchard to demonstrate robotic farming in action.

"We wanted to make a splash," said Mel Torrie, President and CEO of ASI. "Our roots are in farming all the way back to the inception of ASI fourteen years ago, but we've historically developed for the large OEMs which required us to work in secrecy. Our recent products are a very good fit for specialty crops like nuts, vineyards, citrus, and berries. We wanted to tell that story in a big way."

ASI's booth also featured an exhibit by AGGIEAIR, a research division of Utah State University that focuses on farming applications for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The entire exhibit was designed to provide visitors with a panoramic view of what's currently available in automated farming.