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In the proving ground environment, car manufacturers engage in extensive durability and misuse testing.

They might jump a vehicle off a ledge, run it into a wall, or even run tests in which the vehicle rolls over—all to improve the safety of the vehicle for consumers.

The challenge is there is a clear limit to what you can test with a driver in the car. Though the ultimate buyer of the vehicle may misuse a car or truck in hundreds of imaginative ways, proving grounds need to keep the health and safety of their drivers in mind when they’re designing tests.



In fact, one of ASI’s customers recently had to shut down a ditch twist test the first day they started running it, after two test drivers endured neck injuries. Since then, they turned to ASI to automate their vehicle. They now run the test all the time, ultimately improving the safety of the vehicle itself.

Putting the robot in a vehicle opens the door for a proving ground to be very innovative in what kinds of tests they can write and run. To learn more about the capability of ASI’s proving ground solution, please enjoy the video.








For automakers, manufacturing vehicles that are safe is the number one priority. In order to evaluate the safety and reliability of cars and trucks, companies test their models on miles of tracks known as proving grounds.

Here, human drivers are often employed to subject automobiles to rigorous handling and varying conditions so engineers can assess the effects of different speeds, driving scenarios, and varying passenger loads.

But the human element of these durability and misuse tests comes with many disadvantages that, when removed, can optimize operations leading to faster results and direct cost savings.

Robotic Advantages

The first advantage of replacing a human driver with robotics programmed with artificial intelligence is it increases safety on the tracks. There’s no individual who can be harmed performing high-risk exercises, decreasing the liability of automakers.

There are government regulations regarding the use of humans behind the wheel on proving grounds which can slow testing; these rules don’t come into play with an autonomous solution.

Humans require breaks and there are stiff safety regulations that dictate only one to three hours behind the wheel every twenty four hour period in many cases. On the other hand, robots can perform for an extended time period only needing to stop to refuel. And one of the most notable benefits of robotics is a more successful rate of repeatability that an individual just can’t match.



A Multi-Vehicle Control Platform

ASI’s Mobius for proving grounds is a multi-vehicle command and control platform that allows a single operator to oversee the operation of an entire fleet of automobiles. To accomplish this, vehicles are fitted with ASI’s Vehicle Automation Kit which includes our VCU (vehicle control unit) that communicates with Mobius.

The platform allows for the creation of custom paths to fit the parameters of desired tests, as vehicles can be programmed to accelerate, decelerate or perform any number of actions at precise locations. By fitting a beacon on non-autonomous vehicles, Mobius will recognize and account for them so both traditional and driverless vehicles can occupy a track at the same time.

Proven Results on Proving Grounds

Proving grounds using ASI’s Mobius technology see dramatically improved efficiency. One customer reported that tests with human drivers took 12 days to complete as a result of higher test failure rate due to human error, the restrictions of heavy safety regulations, and natural human fatigue requiring breaks. These same tests took robot drivers just five days to complete and logged high test ratings due to superior repeatability.

Car companies deploying ASI’s Mobius multi-vehicle autonomous technology for proving grounds enjoy faster, more accurate tests at reduced costs without putting a human driver in harm’s way.




Competitors’ solutions don’t allow the flexibility that Mobius provides in creating custom paths and events, which is why Ford, Toyota, FCA and Hyundai all rely on Mobius and ASI for durability and misuse testing. To learn more about the power and capability of Mobius, visit ASIrobots.com today!






The market for robots is booming and primed for further growth. Estimates by the International Federation of Robotics report unit sales of industrial robots grew 15% in 2015, while revenue increased 9% to $11bn.

Consultant firm ABI Research sees sales of industrial robots tripling by 2025. The popularity of robots is driven by their effectiveness in optimizing operations, lowering costs, and improving workplace safety.

RESHORING JOBS.
Contrary to popular belief, automated machines don’t spell doom and gloom for the human workforce. The adoption of manufacturing robots in high-wage countries is allowing companies to reshore jobs, moving them back from low-wage countries like China, and employing locals back home.

Sportswear giant Adidas announced this year it will produce running shoes in a German factory staffed by robots and 160 new workers. It’s part of an overall trend where companies are investing in “collaborative robots” that are designed to operate alongside human workers.

AUTOMATED SOLUTIONS.
Firms looking to incorporate automated vehicles into their workforce need look no further than ASI, a world leader in unmanned ground vehicle systems. We’ve developed a robotics platform that’s specifically designed for rapid integration into our partners’ ecosystems. Our robust technology ranges from driver assistance solutions to full, multi-vehicle autonomy.



We can easily automate any vehicle, regardless of manufacturer, using our Vehicle Automation Kit. It can also be leveraged for electronic, by-wire control of vehicles with controls capable of this function. Control functions are delivered via our Mobius software, the industry’s most advanced unmanned command and control system.

GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP PROGRAM

Through our Global Partnership Program, we’ve teamed up with OEMs and delivered automated solutions to leading brands including Ford Motor Company, Goodyear Tires, CNH Industrial, Boeing, General Dynamics, and Lockheed Martin. Fortune 500 companies and government entities trust us for reliable technologies that prioritize safety above all.

Our industry-leading engineers and researchers can serve as an extension of an existing robotics engineering team, or in lieu of one, in order to create and sustain a company’s competitive advantage. We offer three partnership models to choose from:




COLLABORATION – With innovations in global robotics developing at an exponential rate, stay ahead of the curve by leveraging our engineering. Whether it be for a single project or multi-year initiatives, we’re here to collaborate.

CONTRACT OUTSOURCING – If you have a disruptive idea, we can make it a reality with experts in business strategy, marketing, sales and creative finance to assist in creating liability isolated business entities.

EQUITY OWNERSHIP – Our aim is to find long-term strategic partners for equity positions. We offer creative and flexible ownership opportunities so our partners can secure access to our robotics solutions.

Whatever your current position, ASI is standing by, ready to help your organization reach its automation goals through a trusted partnership. To learn more about integrating ASI technology into your operation, visit ASIrobots.com.






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.