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!

The future of mining lies in autonomy. While mining companies understand autonomous technology is the way forward, there is confusion as to the best practices for transitioning from manned to driverless fleets. ASI has partnered with industry leaders to integrate autonomous solutions and, as a result, gained unique insight into how to successfully deploy this advanced technology. Here are four key considerations to keep in mind in order to pave an effective path toward autonomy.

Interoperability: Currently, there are no common standards or protocols for autonomous systems, leading to a lack of cohesion and suboptimal productivity from automated vehicles. Mobius provides open protocols to allow interoperability between vehicle automation controllers from multiple vendors.

Integration: Mining requires numerous vehicles to execute operations including dozers, blast trucks, drills, haul trucks, loaders, and more. Much of the equipment in a mining fleet and the current systems that support them are built on proprietary technology that is not made to seamlessly integrate with one another. This makes it difficult to transition into full scale autonomy as mining companies spend money on piecemeal projects that don’t work together, leading to decreased efficiency.

Our Mobius software is an OEM agnostic command and control platform for fleet wide traffic management that doesn’t rely on proprietary systems, making it versatile and enabling autonomy across all equipment no matter the manufacturer

Implementation: Implementing full-scale autonomous solutions is impeded by the scope and complexity of such an undertaking. Companies find it difficult to finance and support a broad program, and have concerns about the short-term impact of implementation on productivity. Our technology is scalable, allowing for an incremental approach toward automation that can be expanded, phase by phase, until full autonomy is achieved.

Value Proposition: While driverless vehicle fleets are the future of mining, it’s important that autonomous technology isn’t adopted for technology’s sake. Companies must be able to extract real value from making an investment in these advanced solutions. Using an incremental approach and equipping vehicles with our autonomy kit in a scalable and methodical fashion allows us to demonstrate the value of deploying autonomous technology before further investment is made.

ASI has emerged as a leader in autonomous solutions, and our technology for mining vehicle fleets is specifically developed to improve the safety and productivity of mines. To learn more about our revolutionary solutions and how it can transform your mining operation, visit us online at www.asirobots.com today!

The benefits autonomy will bring to mining operations are well known, but the way to transition to unmanned fleets is less clear. In this, the first in a trilogy of blog posts, we’ll demonstrate how an incremental, multi-phase approach can serve as a successful path to full scale autonomy.

A mining operation may be slow to adopt advantageous autonomous technology for a number of sensible reasons. The first is cost. Transitioning from a manned fleet to a robotic workforce requires a significant investment that puts autonomy out of the hands of many companies. The second is unfamiliarity. Managing artificial intelligence and advanced robotics isn’t quite as intuitive as hiring and training a human.

Another reason is short-term unproductivity. Operations simply can’t afford the temporary reduction in productivity during the migration process. In order to provide for a seamless transition, ASI offers a gradual approach to adopting this next generation technology.

Similar to the recently unveiled CNH Industrial autonomous concept tractor, this security robot is built on ASI’s hardware and software platform. Mobius, ASI’s command and control software enables a single operator to oversee the coordination and cooperation of multiple A-UGVs.

Driver assist. It’s a feature that comes with more and more vehicles offered by automakers over the last few years. The car industry understands that people are naturally wary of yielding control of their car over to artificial intelligence, and have rolled out driver assist technology to get individuals comfortable with a small degree of autonomy. Cars equipped with driver assist features can parallel park themselves and stay in their lanes while cruising on freeways. Driver assist features are also available for mining vehicles, and marks the first, affordable and low risk step into transforming from a manned to a fully autonomous fleet.

At ASI, our engineers have developed intelligent hardware and software that can be used to bring autonomous functionality to existing mining equipment. It all starts with Mobius FMS (Fleet Management System). Mobius FMS is an OEM agnostic command and control platform designed for interoperability and scalability. The primary functions of Mobius FMS include dispatch, position monitoring, and reporting functionality. Mobius FMS serves as a hub that allows for the integration of driver assist features like collision warning and avoidance systems (CWS/CAS), fatigue monitoring, and spotting assist.

The CWS module is comprised of an operator warning system which does not interact with vehicle actuation. Once Mobius FMS is setup, no additional hardware is needed for basic CWS functionality as it utilizes GPS proximity warnings. The base CWS module is also expandable to include sensor based detection along with projected path filters for additional intelligence.

ASI’s robust Mobius FMS and CWS module are cost-effective driver assist features suitable for mining companies looking to carefully integrate autonomy into their operations. The driver assist phase provides familiarity with intelligent technology at low-risk, while keeping manual control in the hands of humans.

It is the first step to achieving an unmanned, fully autonomous fleet. But before that can be realized, a second step involving partial-autonomy must be completed. Be sure to visit us soon to learn more about this next phase; and for more information about our offerings, visit us at www.asirobots.com today!

For more information about security robots and ASI visit www.asirobots.com/security

Every car maker and Silicon Valley giant seems to be getting into the autonomous vehicle game. That’s because fully autonomous driving is the future, and companies want to capture a slice of what will become a major, disruptive market. In fact, we don’t have to wait until some far-off date, as driverless technology is already being used, developed, and refined every single day.

One of the primary motivators for the rapid adoption of autonomous driving technology is its potential to dramatically reduce traffic collisions and save lives. In 2015, there were an estimated 35,000 motor vehicle deaths, with the majority of all crashes caused by human error. Having smart AI take the wheel can improve safety. It already is.

Proving grounds are where car makers send their vehicles for durability and misuse testing. These facilities feature miles of tracks that automotive companies use to put their latest model, or one up for recall, through extreme conditions so they can analyze how it performs, and evaluate it for manufacturing defects or design miscalculations.

In the past, a human had to sit in the driver’s seat and steer the vehicle aroundthe course. Inserting a person into an unproven test vehicle and sending them down very hazardous tracks which are purposefully designed with the worst imaginable road conditions. Injuries or even deaths could occur from rough durability tracks, jumps, vehicle rolls, and other scenarios, making the proving grounds a dangerous place – but not anymore.

At Autonomous Solutions Inc., we specialize in engineering independent vehicle automation systems that remove the human from the driver’s seat, and out of harm’s way. Our researchers have developed technology for proving ground automation, bringing safety to durability and misuse testing.

We’ve partnered with some of the largest automotive brands in the world to improve the safety and efficiency of their durability and misuse testing. Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, and Hyundai all trust ASI’s Mobius on their proving grounds.

We’ve even worked with the U.S. Air Force, applying our automation kits to drive vehicles pulling target sleds from a control center 50 miles away!

Our vehicle automation systems start with installing hardware into test vehicles to control steering, acceleration, braking, and transmission. Then, equipped with our intelligent Mobius command and control platform, remote operators are able to send the vehicle down specific drive paths. A single operator can even control multiple vehicles, interacting in the same area or different locations for increased productivity.

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Autonomous technology is being leveraged to disrupt a number of industries including transportation, manufacturing, and product fulfillment. Autonomy removes much of the human risk associated with dangerous jobs by putting the person behind a remote command center far from the danger, and letting robots perform hazardous tasks instead. Nowhere will we find the life-saving benefits of this technology more apparent than in the perilous occupation of mining.

Mining has historically been one of the most treacherous jobs in the world, with the probability of injuries and deaths higher than that of most professions. In an effort to enhance both safety and productivity in mining, robotics leader Autonomous Solutions, Inc has developed revolutionary hardware and software that removes humans from the vehicle driver’s seat and puts them in front of a command center, where they can remotely execute mining activities without any of the risks associated with manual operation.

“ASI’s autonomy kit can automate any vehicle in your existing mining fleet.”

ASI’s autonomy kit can automate any vehicle in your existing mining fleet. Dozers, blast trucks, excavators, underground LHD loaders, and front end loaders are just some of the mining vehicles we can bring to life with our autonomous technology. After we install hardware into your equipment, the human operator can then monitor multiple vehicles with our Mobius software platform. Mobius operates on a dedicated server housed in a control room on site, and is linked to each vehicle via an RF Network such as wireless mesh, LTE, or other connection. Not only is the human now safely out of harm’s way, a single operator can manage a fleet of vehicles from a remote location, improving mining efficiency.

ASI’s autonomy kit can automate any vehicle in your existing mining fleet. Dozers, blast trucks, excavators, underground LHD loaders, and front end loaders are just some of the mining vehicles we can bring to life with our autonomous technology. After we install hardware into your equipment, the human operator can then monitor multiple vehicles with our Mobius software platform. Mobius operates on a dedicated server housed in a control room on site, and is linked to each vehicle via an RF Network such as wireless mesh, LTE, or other connection. Not only is the human now safely out of harm’s way, a single operator can manage a fleet of vehicles from a remote location, improving mining efficiency.

Mobius is designed to help mines realize increased productivity. The platform allows vehicle operations to be managed in a reliable manner, and significantly reduces labor, fuel, and maintenance costs.

“Mobius is designed to help mines realize increased productivity.”

Regulations imposed for human operations restrict flexibility in mine design. But our advanced AI carries no such restrictions, giving mine operators more freedom to alter designs in areas such as road widths or wall heights, which can greatly reduce removal costs. Robots don’t require breaks and can work for an extended time period, further increasing vehicle utilization and mine productivity. Better tracking and control of vehicle operations extends asset life in the areas of tires, brakes, and other components for even deeper cost savings.

Our autonomous technology is available today for mines anywhere around the world. It is scalable – smaller mine operations can implement the Mobius platform and expand it in the future. Because Mobius is OEM agnostic, it works with your existing mining vehicles and can integrate your entire fleet into a fully autonomous operation in a phase-by-phase approach or all at once. To find out more about how our game-changing autonomous technology is causing a seismic shift in mining while enhancing safety and productivity, visit us at asirobots.com!

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