A recent survey by the World Economic Forum found that 82% of executives in the mining industry plan to increase investments in digital technology within the next three years, and nearly a third (28%) expect those contributions to be significant.
This widespread commitment to data visualization, cybersecurity, robotics, and automation will have profound implications for what is a 402-billion-dollar industry.
It is very likely that organizations who move swiftly to adopt and implement these new technologies will emerge as market leaders with significantly reduced costs and overhead.
The same report found that early adopters may see an EBITA difference of nearly 70% compared to their laggard counterparts.
This stark contrast can be attributed to vast increases in operational efficiency. Companies that embrace robotics and automation will lower administrative costs, prolong equipment life, and be able to make better on the scene decisions.
There is also an increase in productivity associated with technologies like Robotic Process Automation (RPA).
RPA takes many of the repetitive tasks that are associated with a large knowledge workforce and mimic these activities through software to free up human counterparts for more creative and important work.
Mckinsey reports that one company saw a nearly 200% ROI from the RPA efforts, in the first year. Savings like this are leading many businesses to combine their IT and OT departments. These integrations will allow for unprecedented synergies in the field and at headquarters.
Over 23% of respondents in the Accenture Digital Technology in Mining Survey 2016 also reported that their organization has widespread adoption of robotic technology, and another 29% are in the pilot phase.
These means that physical robots will soon be an integral part of mining operations for the majority of industry leaders.
There will continue to be seismic shifts in the mining industry and many companies that are late to adopt will find themselves on the wrong end of a zero sum game.
To learn more about the future of mining, visit twitter and tag @AccentureMining
In our continued leadership innovating autonomous solutions for the mining industry, ASI has become a member of the Global Mining Standards and Guidelines Group (GMSG).
GMSG is an international mine operator-driven community that facilitates collaboration across the mining industry to solve common problems and develop standards, guidelines, and best practices.
As a corporate member, ASI has the opportunity to influence current and future initiatives, and shape the future of the global mining industry with respect to autonomy.
GMSG is presently developing an autonomous mining guideline for international use. Implementing autonomous solutions is a high-level priority for operators within the space, but due to the newness and general unfamiliarity with the technology, its integration has proven rather challenging for companies, in particular those that seek to scale up their current autonomous machines only to be frustrated by interoperability issues.
It is the group’s goal to share best practices for autonomous technology implementation in order to drive innovation, facilitate conversations with regional regulators, and optimize both mining safety and production.
For the purpose of creating a homogenous autonomous mining system, CMSG will borrow from the established work of outside industries in order to speed progress.
International protocols will guide manufacturers and tech providers in their innovation and development strategies.
It will also lead to consistency in output and process control so that the industry moves forward in lock-step.
And it’ll allow owners and operators to understand data requirements and standards, while contributing to the work of the International Organization of Standardization (ISO).
ASI is committed to engineering autonomous solutions that are interoperable with systems and equipment used all over the world.
As a member of the GMSG, we are in a prime position to establish the guidelines for autonomy, ensuring that our technology is standardized and able to provide maximum interoperability.
We are excited to take part in developing these global protocols.
Autonomous convoys hold great promise for military applications. Enhanced safety and efficiency can be achieved by eliminating or decreasing the number of human personnel required to transport a convoy.
However, technological difficulties have slowed the implementation of driverless solutions by military departments. To solve these challenges, ASI has developed the Guideline Robotic Convoy, a simple and reliable autonomous convoy solution.
THE GUIDELINE ADVANTAGE
Guideline succeeds where previous autonomous convoy solutions failed because it relies on a physical Kevlar tether and robotic leader-follower sensor to achieve driverless guidance. Other systems use GPS or lasers for navigation, but a GPS satellite signal can be weakened or blocked in different scenarios, stopping a convoy in its tracks.
Dusty conditions or even jamming equipment can interfere with laser-guidance making it unreliable. Guideline performs in all terrains, all weather conditions, and without depending on GPS. The Guideline system is a self-contained unit, which means everything needed to establish a driverless convoy is housed in an easy to install device.
No modifications to the leader vehicle is required and the system integrates with ASI’s Vehicle Automation Kit or any third-party automation appliqué kit. Multiple vehicles can be tethered together to form convoys of any size.
FOLLOW THE LEADER
Tether a lead vehicle to a Guideline-equipped follower and start driving. The follower vehicle will mimic the leader’s path with sufficient accuracy for lane-keeping at highway speeds. When the leader accelerates, the follower accelerates; when the leader turns right, the follower turns right at the location where the turn occured.
Reverse, hairpin turns, donut holes — using advanced robotics housed in the Guideline unit, the follower vehicle will perform every maneuver the lead vehicle performs with incredible precision.
In the event of obstructions in tight quarters, the tethered vehicles will plot a safe course around obstacles and continue following the lead vehicle.
If you’d like a more detailed pathway, our autonomy application specialists are ready to help!
ENGINEERED FOR MILITARY APPLICATIONS
Guideline was specifically engineered for military applications, allowing for unmanned convoy operations.
It’s useful for transporting robotic vehicles on public roads without a trailer, and provides a failsafe “follow me” capability for robotic vehicles. It improves the safety of convoy missions by reducing the number of human personnel who could be targeted by enemy combatants.
The advanced robotics enable operations in GPS-denied, RF-denied, and low-visibility environments, enhancing reliability and efficiency.
Guideline Robotic Convoy is an affordable automation system that provides an easy step into driverless solutions for military applications. It can be used in the field of duty or on a base.
To learn more about Guideline and the rest of our autonomous technologies, contact us today!
The May 2017 issue of International Mining Magazine published a feature article on ASI highlighting our innovative, graduated approach to implementing autonomous solutions for mining companies. This graduated autonomy model champions the deliberate and incremental integration of driverless elements that charts the pathway to a fully unmanned operation.
THE PITFALLS OF PIECEMEAL WITHOUT A ROADMAP
Going from a manned fleet to an unmanned one is a complex endeavor that is unfeasible for many mining operations, whether it be due to the inability to fund such an initiative or the possibility of short-term production disruption during the transition. In order to wade into the waters of autonomy, some mine operation have taken a piecemeal approach, rolling out select autonomous elements without considering how these assets will fit into a complete system that one day realizes full autonomy.
Investing in a few automated solutions here and there without a clear view of the big picture frequently results in wasted time and money when operations discover that their equipment must be scrapped in order to advance to a new level of greater autonomy.
THE GRADUAL APPROACH
ASI’s model is designed not just for big mining companies seeking to transition to full autonomy in a pragmatic step-by-step fashion, but also mid-tier and smaller operations with limited resources. The gradual approach is conceived as an integrated, concentric pie chart that encompasses all elements of full autonomy and the steps needed to achieve it.
Our model is supported by technology that is OEM agnostic and scalable, meaning that assets are interoperable with those from multiple vendors, both existing and new, and can be expanded at a time of the client’s choosing. This incremental and future-proof system is advantageous to operations of all sizes, since it provides an opportunity to customize and configure an approach to each site, depending on its unique readiness.
THE FLEXIBILITY OF MOBIUS
The ASI incremental approach is made possible by centering our Mobius Command and Control platform at the core. The software initially delivers partial automation of the haulage fleet, and operator assist functions such as collision warning, fatigue monitoring, or auto spotting.
We developed it as a flexible solution that can operate as a fleet management system or integrate with an existing one. While a company may start off small by implementing a few operator assist functions, Mobius stands ready to scale into more advanced features until full autonomy is attained.
In order to deliver the greatest value to customers both now and in the future, ASI’s graduated model charts a sample path one could take to reach full autonomy. Mine operations can add autonomous solutions at their own pace with the confidence that each investment brings them one step closer to a completely unmanned operation.
If you’d like a more detailed pathway, our autonomy application specialists are ready to help!
As automation becomes more prevalent across industries, people are encountering new words and terminology that are associated with the growing technology. Operators at mining companies making their foray into autonomy have no doubt come across the terms “spot assist” and “auto spot.”
While the two may sound similar, each term has its own specific definition which must be understood for operations hoping to make the most out of cutting-edge autonomous solutions.
Spot assist is a manned solution that communicates to the haul truck operator via a tablet. It assists the human driver by audibly and visually signaling where to back up to a shovel for loading. This can improve productivity and safety in potentially dangerous mining scenarios where a wrong move could prove costly.
Auto spot takes spot assist to the next level by removing the driver’s need to manually control the vehicle while in the load zone. Much like cruse control solutions in automobiles, auto spot turns control of the haul truck over to the robotic system.
As a driverless technology, auto spot performs the necessary truck operations with the ability to navigate to a precise spot point and avoid any contact with surrounding vehicles, infrastructure, or obstacles.
It’s important to understand the difference between spot assist and auto spot features before making an investment in autonomous technology. Spot assist is great as a first step into autonomy, giving users familiarity with the capabilities of intelligent software and hardware, while keeping vehicular control in the hands of humans.
ASI’s Mobius platform has been specifically developed to allow scaling up from solutions like Spot Assist to Auto Spot when it makes sense for the operation.
While other firms may offer auto spot capabilities, their system may not offer scaling, meaning the initial investment would have to be scrapped and rebuilt from the ground up in order to progress to a more autonomous solution. Not so with Mobius.
To discover more about the versatile Mobius platform and ASI’s rich autonomous solutions, visit us at www.asirobots.com/mining today!
Car companies often boast about the safety of their vehicles. Car collisions remain a too common occurrence, so protecting the passengers inside needs to be a top priority. But how are automotive brands confident their cars and trucks are, in fact, safe? It starts by subjecting the vehicles to rigorous durability and misuse testing on miles of tracks known as proving grounds.
Traditionally, a proving ground is where car makers test automobiles in different scenarios with respect to speed, climate conditions, road conditions (pot holes, loose rubble, etc.), and other driving hazards. Having a human perform these tests can be dangerous, adding risk of injury and the high cost of insurance. It is also inefficient, as humans are not always able to easily perform and repeat the tests to satisfactory levels without multiple attempts.
There are strict regulations regarding how long a person can drive on proving grounds, primarily due to the extreme hazardous conditions that exist on the tracks vehicles are tested on. By replacing the test driver with advanced A.I., car makers can achieve faster, more productive misuse testing that doesn’t put human lives in jeopardy.
ASI’s OEM agnostic Vehicle Automation Kit and intelligent software is able to automate the driving functions of virtually any vehicle (consumer vehicles, tractor, mining equipment), and enhance the safety and productivity of proving grounds. Our technology puts robotic technology in the driver’s seat, and allows a human operator to direct tests from the safety of a computer back at the control center.
The kit is rugged enough to withstand any harsh durability test, and repeat it for as long as a fuel tank will allow. Robotics can also complete actions that are not suitable for humans to execute, such as rollovers, jumps, and other dangerous maneuvers on any road surface including compacted rubble, loose rubble, potholes and ruts, mud, rough grassy field, and more.
In addition to providing better safety, our Vehicle Automation Kit cuts the time that it would take human drivers to complete the same test in half. Automated vehicles do not have to stop for regulated breaks as deemed by law, or to switch drivers due to fatigue. A single operator can command multiple vehicles at the same time to further improve efficiency.
The same operator can program the automobiles to increase or decrease speed at designated parts of the track, if so required by the demands of the test. Since they are precise and less prone to error, automated vehicles yield results that are easily repeatable for the highest levels of integrity.
ASI’s advanced automation technology is trusted by Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, and Hyundai to conduct tests that are safe and repeatable at their proving grounds. These tests can yield reliable results in half the time, all without putting humans in harm’s way. Our Vehicle Automation Kit is an affordable solution that increases proving ground efficiency and decreases exposure to risk at a value our expensive competitors can’t match. To learn more, visit us today at asirobots.com/automotive.
You may have heard the terms collision warning system (CWS) or collision avoidance system (CAS) when watching a car commercial. Automakers, realizing the future of transportation lies in driverless technology, have been deploying these features for nearly a decade. As a result, people are becoming acquainted with automated technology, and will one day be comfortable enough to give full control of their automobiles to artificial intelligence.
While the terms collision warning system and collision avoidance system may seem interchangeable, there are actually marked differences between the two. As mining operations begin to invest in automated technology to improve the efficiency of their fleets, it’s important to understand the distinctions before making a big capital expenditure.
A collision warning system uses GPS radar and/or lasers to detect an impending collision, and audibly warns the driver a crash is imminent. A collision avoidance system takes this a step further, and will activate the brakes or increase speed and navigate the vehicle away from the danger. CAS doesn’t completely replace a driver, but will actively assist in avoiding hazards in order to provide an extra layer of security. Some firms that provide automation upgrades may try to misconstrue the terms, so it’s imperative to know the differences when investing in this technology.
At ASI, our Mobius® command and control system is a modular platform mining companies can incorporate into their current operations to provide incremental automaton upgrades to their vehicles. Many mining operations aren’t able to make a full-scale migration to a driverless fleet due to capital requirements, possible disruptions to production, or wariness about artificial intelligence. As a result, it’s common to take a piecemeal approach, and adopt a few automated features like CAS or CWS. However, with other platforms, these isolated solutions often do not provide interoperability, making future upgrades challenging and serving as a roadblock on the pathway to a fully unmanned mining fleet. This is where Mobius has the advantage.
Mobius is designed to allow a phased, low risk, cost-effective approach to automation. After setting up the Mobius command and control system, operations can add driver assist features that include CWS, CAS, and choreography which provides an extra layer of safety, as well as increases productivity through minimize queuing of haul trucks as well as hung shovel time. As an OEM agnostic platform, companies can scale later to add even more features to Mobius, such as auto-spotting and fatigue monitoring. Then, when it’s time to migrate to a completely driverless fleet, operations run shadow trials in Mobius to fine tune the switch to a fully autonomous process before letting the artificial intelligence take over production.
So when considering a collision warning system or collision avoidance system keep ASI’s Mobius CWS and Mobius CAS in mind. Unlike other solutions, Mobius allows easy scaling to more automated functions when the time is right, protecting your early investment on the pathway to autonomy. For more information, visit us at asirobots.com.
Rethinking strategies to unlock productivity and improve sustainability is at the top of the list for companies in the mining industry. But challenges in rolling out substantive changes serve as one of the greatest hurdles for miners in 2017.
"As mines embrace digital, their core processes will become fully integrated, autonomous, remote and automated—capabilities made possible by a network of low cost, highly capable sensors that use internet of things (IoT) technologies."
The 2017 edition of Deloitte’s Tracking the Trends details how mining professionals are creating successful strategies for today’s ever-changing market conditions. For the second consecutive year, one of Deloitte’s top strategies is to invest in digital innovation.
“There are countless innovative ideas to improve productivity. Despite this, many mining companies are coming to realize that true innovation cannot be achieved by implementing isolated technology solutions.
Research by Deloitte's innovation practice shows that organizations considered successful serial innovators tend to approach innovation as an enterprise-wide differentiator, exhibiting capabilities across four building blocks: they employ a tailored approach to innovation; they structure the organization to house the innovation competency; they acquire and nurture the appropriate resources and skills; and they develop metrics and incentives to guide their performance.”
"Without an incremental, multi-phase approach to implementing new technology, the cost and unfamiliarity can stymy innovative solutions like autonomy."
Deloitte recognizes that without an incremental, multi-phase approach to implementing new technology, the cost and unfamiliarity can stymy innovative solutions like autonomy.
“The mining sector has been engaging in various forms of innovation for years. Driverless trucks and other forms of automation allow miners to set up remote operations, enhancing safety and efficiency. The use of sensors to monitor a wide range of factors—from tire pressure and road conditions to both equipment and labor performance—enables the collection of highly valuable data points. When parsed through advanced analytics, that data yields insight that can help companies reduce cost, streamline equipment maintenance, and prevent safety incidents.”
“As mines embrace digital, their core processes will become fully integrated, autonomous, remote and automated—capabilities made possible by a network of low cost, highly capable sensors that use internet of things (IoT) technologies. These digital mines will fully digitize engineering and asset information and integrate it with location-aware mobile devices to support an efficient and collaborative workforce.”
The mining industry continues to reinvent the future. The mood of cautious optimism in mining precipitates careful investment in the future. Companies face key choices about where and how to invest in 2017 – read the rest of Deloitte’s Tracking the Trends 2017 to learn about the other strategies being adopted this year.
While it may seem like something ripped from the pages of an Isaac Asimov novel, a fully autonomous, unmanned mining fleet can be implemented today using an operation’s existing mining vehicles. Companies in the mining space that are looking to integrate autonomous solutions may find it challenging and cost-prohibitive to instantly switch from a human labor force to one where advanced robots complete the majority of production tasks.
While some mine operations have the resources to support broad autonomy deployments via pilot or sandbox sites, others may need a more gradual approach.
For those operations, ASI has pioneered a three-step, gradual approach that ends in full autonomy, as we reveal in the conclusion of our series on the pathway to autonomous mining.
With an operator still behind the wheel, shadowing is conducted by gathering data from the system in the background and running autonomous simulations within the actual mine circuit. During these trials, the system generates “hypothetical driven” data and compares this to “as-driven” data; in a way, studying and learning from manual operations.
This step also provides the opportunity to address any potential COMMS or false positive obstacle detection events. Administrators can make modifications as needed, and obtain a high-level assessment of system readiness prior to a switchover to unmanned autonomy. Shadow trials minimize potential disruption of mine production for a frictionless transition.
Full autonomy under a graduated methodology is made possible by the two phases that preceded it, driver assist and partial autonomy. In step one, driver assist, the OEM agnostic command and control platform, Mobius, is introduced to provide data gathering, position monitoring, and reporting functionality similar to most FMS applications.
Mobius acts as a hub that allows for the integration of additional features like a collision warning system (CWS). In step two, modules and hardware are added to expand the functions of Mobius, including an actuated collision avoidance system (CAS), and auto-spotting which allows unmanned control of vehicles.
At this point, human operators are still in the vehicle, but all the elements are in place to migrate to unmanned full autonomy. However, before autonomy is given the helm, it’s highly recommended that shadow trials (via Mobius Shadow Trial module) take place.
Shadow trials serve as a bridge between manned and unmanned operations. With the system finely calibrated and the humans comfortable with directing advanced robotics, Mobius can take the reins of the mining production process.
Migrating to a driverless fleet isn’t out of reach. At ASI, we make it possible with our 3-step incremental approach that is designed to mitigate both the risk and cost of switching to autonomy.
We have the tools to upgrade current mining vehicles with smart software and robust hardware, transforming them into highly productive, fully autonomous machines. For more information about our driverless solutions, visit us at www.asirobots.com today!
Like most organizations today, companies in the mining industry are looking to technological advancements in autonomy to remain competitive and achieve the highest levels of productivity. But migrating from a traditional manned operation to a driverless fleet is new territory that can be fraught with uncertainty and financial risk, causing reluctance to adopt advanced robotics.
ASI understands the natural concerns regarding the expense and unfamiliarity of integrating artificial intelligence, and has developed a gradual, three-step approach to autonomous mining which begins with driver assist, and seamlessly advances to step two, partial autonomy.
In the first blog in this mini-series on the pathway to autonomy, we explained how driver assist functions provide familiarity with smart technology at low-risk and sensible cost, while keeping manual control in the hands of humans.
By equipping an existing fleet with Mobius Command and Control, operators can become comfortable using software for tasks such as position monitoring, collision warning (CWS), and fatigue monitoring.
Having mastered and benefited from the advantages of driver assist, operations can relinquish even more responsibilities to autonomous technology, while retaining human control of the fleet.
Already accustomed to using CWS, operators can incorporate collision avoidance systems (CAS) for further safety enhancements. When collision scenarios are detected, CAS can apply the brakes and throttle system of vehicles.
This function adds path filtering as well as additional sensor filters. CAS provides an additional level of security in the event an operator becomes fatigued, distracted, or otherwise impaired. This module will require the addition of ASI’s vehicle automation hardware.
The implementation of auto-spotting can help maintain an operator’s performance throughout the duration of a shift. Auto-spotting functions similarly to cruise control or autopilot. When engaged, the auto spotting module drives the vehicle to a cusp point, then back to a preset spot as established by the operator.
The operator can assume control at any time during the spotting cycle by tapping the brake. This module requires the hardware upgrade described for CAS, and the loader client kit to be installed on each loader/shovel that interfaces with the auto spotting module.
Collision avoidance, and auto-spotting are partially autonomous enhancements mining operations can integrate, before graduating to the final step in the pathway to an unmanned fleet — full autonomy.
Be sure to visit us soon to learn more about this final phase; and for more information about our offerings, visit us at www.asirobots.com today!