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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.



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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."


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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.





On November 1, 2013, Autonomous Solutions, Inc. celebrated their thirteenth year of business. Since November 2000, ASI has automated more than sixty different types of vehicles; deploy hundreds of robots worldwide; and provided solutions that improve productivity and safety in challenging spaces, including: military, mining, agriculture, manufacturing, and automotive.

As the year winds down, we have an opportunity to pause and reflect on the past and make resolutions for the future. This past year was full of exciting events, notable implementations, product releases, and industry awards.

This article will take you through some of the more prominent happenings during ASI's Year Thirteen.

Mar 2013—ASI adopts AGILE development methodology
To deliver the best possible product while being able to accommodate customer feedback, ASI teams adopt AGILE development methodologies.

Apr 2013—Guideline Receives Bronze Edison Award
On April 25th, the prestigious Edison Awards selected ASI's Guideline Robotic Convoy product as a 2013 Bronze winner. Guideline is a tethered, unmanned convoy system currently undergoing in-theater testing.


Ford Robotic Durability Program

Jun 2013—Ford Motor Company Announces Robotic Program
Ford Motor Company announced its robotic durability testing program designed to protect drivers from their most punishing test tracks. ASI's automotive team worked with Ford engineers for three years to supply the vehicle robotics for Ford's program.

Jul 2013—USPTO Issues Two New Trademarks
ASI adds to its store of intellectual property with two new trademarks for the Forecast 3D laser system and the Vantage obstacle detection and avoidance system.

Aug 2013—ASI Announces New Forge Robotic Platform at AUVSI
ASI unveils the new Forge robotic platform at the AUVSI Unmanned Systems 2013 conference in Washington DC. The new product answer the need for an x-by-wire robotic platform usable across multiple industries.


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Robotics Business Review Game Changer Award Logo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SANTA CLARA, CA—October 23, 2013. The Robotics Business Review announced today that the Forge™ Robotic Platform received its inaugural Game Changer Award. Forge, developed by Autonomous Solutions, Inc. (ASI), was nominated for the award in the Autonomous Navigation category—one of eight categories for current and emerging robotic technologies. The winners were announced in a press release this afternoon in conjunction with the RoboBusiness 2013 conference now underway in Santa Clara, CA.

"Every entry was eminently worthy of an award," said Tom Green, Editor-in-Chief of Robotics Business Review. The Game Changer Award received nominations from a global audience in a range of industries.


"Every product entered displayed an imaginative concept, innovative engineering, and great practicality. Every entry is a marvelous contribution to robotics. All of which made the judging ever so difficult."

The eight-person review panel for the Game Changer award represented an expert, cross-industry perspective including business, engineering, and academia. Each nomination was rated for standout attributes, design, functionality, benefit to robotics as a whole, and impact to the nomination category.

With high marks in each focus area, Forge joins an elite class of robotics solutions receiving the Game Changer distinction.

ASI developed Forge to answer the need for a single platform capable of performing a variety of autonomous, cross-industry duties. Forge leverages advanced vehicle robotics and more than a hundred skid steer attachments to enable full automation of tasks such as mowing, trenching, street painting, and sweeping.

"We've had a lot of requests for an x-by-wire solution," said Mel Torrie, ASI's President & CEO. "We developed Forge to meet that need, and the Game Changer award is an indication that we're very close to where we need to be. We're honored to receive this recognition from the Robotics Business Review and many of our industry peers."



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WASHINGTON, D.C.—August 13, 2013. Autonomous Solutions, Inc. (ASI) will officially unveil FORGE™, a new open-interface extensible ground robot, at the AUVSI Unmanned Systems 2013 conference in Washington, D.C.

Answering the many requests for an x-by-wire skid steer base that can be expanded for a variety of robotic applications, the Forge platform enables developers and end users to buy and sell hardware and software application packages for unmanned industrial, military, and commercial uses.

Forge utilizes ASI's x-by-wire electronics that have been fielded around the world with Fortune 500 partners in the automotive, military, agriculture, mining, and materials handling industries.

Ford Motor Company recently profiled their success using ASI technology to operate robotic test vehicles over thousands of rough miles each month. Forge’s versatile electronics can be coupled with higher level components to accomplish remote control, teleoperation, full autonomy, and coordinated multi-vehicle control. Users will eventually be able to create and operate their own apps through the planned Forge API or leverage ASI's standard hardware and software packages including Mobius™, Vantage®, and a variety of sensor suites.


ASI will actively seek feedback on this new product at the AUVSI conference and on the website to understand developer’s desired interface and operating system choices in order to accelerate their product time to market.

FORGE will be available for sale on September 1, 2013.

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About ASI
For more than 12 years, ASI has been a world leader in unmanned ground vehicle systems and components. From their northern Utah headquarters, ASI serves clients in military, mining, agriculture, manufacturing, and automotive 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, quality, simplicity, and safety.


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!