Raw point cloud data generated by ASI's Forcast lidar and analyzed by Vantage™ perception softwareRaw point cloud data generated by ASI's Forcast lidar and analyzed by Vantage™ perception software

Each autonomous vehicle system employs a set of sensors that provide environmental feedback for safety, navigation, and other essential vehicle functions. Up until this point, sensors with high levels of accuracy have been too expensive for most users to afford, but that is rapidly changing.

From a vertically spinning LIDAR on a mining truck to a stereo camera on a Packbot , it's not uncommon to see any one of a number of sensors atop an unmanned vehicle at Autonomous Solutions, Inc. (ASI). GPS, LIDAR, infrared, and vision-based sensor technologies play an integral role in any autonomous vehicle system. Feedback from a network of sensors and software algorithms enables an unmanned vehicle to essentially “see" what is going on in its environment and react intelligently.

Unfortunately, sensors--which are generally the largest cost-driver in the autonomous system--and budgets do not always match up, forcing companies to sacrifice their desired level of accuracy for a more affordable sensor. Change is close, however, according to ASI's Jared Pratt.
"As sensor prices have dropped and as the algorithms have improved to leverage lower cost sensors, more automation applications are showing a strong return on investment"
said Pratt in a recent article by OEM-Off Highway's Sara Jensen.


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.

Autonomous Solutions, Inc. is excited to announce the approval of two trademarks by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The two marks, Vantage® and TruSpective®, are used to identify both software and hardware solutions manufactured by ASI and represent great strides in both obstacle detection/avoidance and GPS-denied navigation and manipulation technologies.

Without any type of sensor-based perception, autonomous vehicles are essentially "blind," relying solely on GPS signals to determine and navigate their course. Obstacles such as large rocks, fallen debris, animals, humans, and other vehicles cannot be identified by GPS resulting in the potential of dangerous collisions.

The Vantage obstacle detection and avoidance system is a combination of robotic sensors and software that identifies obstacles and allows robotic vehicles to react accordingly. The software accepts 3D LIDAR or video camera input data and uses detection algorithms to determine the size of and distance to a potential obstacle. Depending on the configuration of Vantage, the autonomous vehicle may react with "see-and-stop" or "see-and-avoid" behavior. This system represents one layer of the vehicle safety package offered by ASI on all robotic installations.

In the world of explosives handling robots, one of the greatest challenges is being able to accurately pick up and handle objects.

Using two dimensional video cameras is only marginally effective, and manipulation is often time consuming and difficult. "It's like that arcade game with the claw you're trying to use to pick up a stuffed animal, but you can never seem to get it right," says Matt Droter, Product Manager for ASI's sensor research team. "It's the same way with using a camera feed in bomb disposal. It's not really an exact science, and that makes it tough for high pressure, dangerous situations."

To solve this problem, ASI's sensor team integrates 3D sensor technology into the software program, TruSpective.

The software fuses 3D environment scans with 2D video feeds to create a unique robot-in-world view and provides operators with an interface that can pan and zoom in a three dimensional space around the robot to give a better perspective of object location and can better inform the robot of the location of its manipulators. TruSpecitve is designed for use in bomb disposal, hazardous material disposal, disaster recovery, and other GPS-denied environments. The official descriptions of these trademarks can be found by searching the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) on the USPTO website.