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Autonomous Solutions, Inc. (ASI) and CNH Industrial have announced the unveiling of concept autonomous tractors. ASI is CNH Industrial’s technology provider responsible for developing autonomous vehicle technology for a concept cabless Case IH Magnum and a concept New Holland T8, based on a current production tractor.

The tractors, unveiled today at the Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa, include the ability for autonomous seeding, planting and tillage, for broad acre and row crop farming. Advanced path planning technology will allow farmers to manage their fields efficiently and oversee the overall operation of several vehicles at once. The vehicles are also capable of obstacle detection which will enhance safety in the agriculture industry.

“ASI is the industry-leading developer of autonomous solutions in the off-road vehicle segment"

“ASI is the industry-leading developer of autonomous solutions in the off-road vehicle segment and the natural choice to be one of CNH Industrial’s key technology providers. CNH Industrial has had a long and successful relationship with ASI and we will continue to work together in developing advanced autonomous solutions for the future benefit of our global customers” stated Richard Tobin, CEO of CNH Industrial.

This new technology gives farmers the ability to operate their tractor as both a manned or unmanned vehicle.

At a farmer's command, autonomous tractors can drive from a parking area along private roads to a field and begin work without any intervention.

ASI has nearly two decades of autonomous technology development experience. As a smaller and more agile technology developer, ASI is able to partner with large global companies to help them disrupt their market with multi-vehicle autonomy faster and more economically than they could in any other way.

“Our relationship with CNH Industrial is vital in facilitating the near term disruption of how farming is done. We’re thrilled to be working with the leaders in Ag innovation to make this exciting future of driverless tractors a reality,” says Mel Torrie, ASI founder and CEO. “CNH Industrial’s selection of ASI as a long term, strategic robotic development provider validates the capability and flexibility of our robotics platform in reducing the risk and costs for equipment manufacturers to bring advanced capabilities to their respective industries.”

“Our relationship with CNH Industrial is vital in facilitating the near term disruption of how farming is done."

ASI and CNH Industrial have joined forces to create a development model and architecture framework that is flexible and dynamic, able to quickly adapt and adopt new technologies and standards as fast as they become available. This concept tractor results from the integration of ASI’s autonomous hardware and software with CNH Industrial’s advanced platform.

ASI also leverages this autonomous technology with other large global companies such as FCA US, Ford, Toyota, Rio Tinto, Anglo American, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Dematic, and a large global security company and others to be announced in coming weeks.

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About Autonomous Solutions, Inc.

Autonomous Solutions, Inc. (ASI) designs and manufactures unmanned vehicle systems, software, and components that are OEM agnostic. ASI’s robotic kits and command and control software can be leveraged in a variety of industries including agriculture, automotive, mining, military, security, and industrial applications. ASI’s vehicle automation kits are OEM independent and have been used for many different applications. Clients have experienced enhanced safety, increased efficiency, and improved accuracy.

For over 16 years, ASI has been a leader in vehicle automation. ASI has a strong software team which makes up over half of its engineering work force. ASI’s Mobius software allows for command and control of a fleet of vehicles in addition to ease of use, industry specific task planning, and vehicle diagnostics. ASI has extensive experience automating vehicles of all shapes and sizes with an emphasis on systems integration, obstacle detection and avoidance, tele-operation, and fully autonomous controls.

About CNH Industrial N.V.

CNH Industrial N.V. (NYSE: CNHI /MI: CNHI) is a global leader in the capital goods sector with established industrial experience, a wide range of products and a worldwide presence. Each of the individual brands belonging to the Company is a major international force in its specific industrial sector: Case IH, New Holland Agriculture and Steyr for tractors and agricultural machinery; Case and New Holland Construction for earth moving equipment; Iveco for commercial vehicles; Iveco Bus and Heuliez Bus for buses and coaches; Iveco Astra for quarry and construction vehicles; Magirus for firefighting vehicles; Iveco Defence Vehicles for defence and civil protection; and FPT Industrial for engines and transmissions. More information can be found on the corporate website: www.cnhindustrial.com

Media Contact

Matt Nielsen
Corporate Communications Manager
matt.nielsen@asirobots.com
435.227.7420


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Autonomous Solutions will be at the 2016 MINExpo in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, .

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At the end of last year, ten of the world's largest consumer vehicle manufacturers combined to announce that automated emergency braking systems would be a standard feature in all new vehicle models produced by the companies. The move is designed to reduce the number of rear end collisions which make up about a third of all accidents.

and autonomous braking system braking for a vehicle

While each manufacturer's system would work differently, the fundamental concept is the same: if forward facing sensors detect a slower moving or stopped vehicle ahead, the brakes automatically engage without driver intervention. "We are entering an era of vehicle safety, focused on preventing crashes from ever occurring, rather than just protecting occupants when crashes happen," said Anthony Foxx, US Transportation Secretary in the Los Angeles Times article.

"We are entering an era of vehicle safety, focused on preventing crashes from ever occurring, rather than just protecting occupants when crashes happen,"

Regardless of where your opinion falls on this specific topic, it's important to recognize that the automatic emergency braking system is just one of several autonomous vehicle technologies that have or will shortly make it into consumer vehicles. Advances such as adaptive cruise control, lane departure warnings, and automatic parallel parking have already made their debut and are becoming increasingly affordable options. In each case, the combination of sensors and intelligent action on the part of the vehicle has its roots in robotics. The benefits to safety and convenience will continue to push the industry toward robotic vehicles.


However, because of the substantial legal issues involved, the unmanned industry generally has steered clear of consumer vehicles. California recently released draft regulation proposals signaling that liability of these vehicles could rest on the vehicle manufacturers. Nothing has been passed on the federal or state level though so some are still trying to anticipate the eventual adoption of fully automated vehicles on public roads and what it will take to get the industry there. For example, the University of Michigan, in partnership with the Michigan DOT, have created Mcity, a mock "downtown" that simulates the unexpected variables that come with driving in urban conditions, allowing manufacturers to test autonomous vehicles in a realistic environment. ASI also expanded its test facilities in northern Utah to allow for simulating some of these situations.

Fully autonomous systems have already been successfully applied to consumer vehicles in closed/controlled environments. Autonomous Solutions, Inc. (ASI) has been working with Ford Motor Company since 2011 and developed a robotic durability testing program. Robotic technology is retrofitted to new vehicle models and operated from a central command center at Ford's Michigan Proving Ground facility. The robotic technology enables Ford to remove human drivers from the most punishing test tracks and run durability testing 24/7.

Despite the progress of the University of Michigan, ASI, and other innovators like Google with their Google Car program, full adoption of autonomous vehicles on the road still seems a ways in the future. But that's not to say that we won't continue to see individual autonomous technologies, such as automatic emergency braking, trickle into the consumer market.


If the last year has taught the mining industry anything, it would be the sheer unpredictability of the sector. Commodity prices continued to dip toward unprecedented lows as the anticipated resurgence of commodities appears farther away than the industry had hoped. Miners are left to brace for more possible bad news in 2016.

But that's not to say that there are not still opportunities to shave costs, improve productivity, and position for the upswing. Deloitte's "Tracking the Trends 2016" report details several strategies that will help companies navigate the mine field that is today's mining industry. Deloitte’s top strategy? Investment in innovation.

"One strategy involves a continued investment in innovation," the report suggests.
"Companies embracing innovation are improving mining intensity whilst reducing people, capital, and energy intensity."
"In fact… some miners have realized energy saving of 10-40% by investing in renewable energy installations, deploying innovative energy technologies, and driving towards more automated mine processes to optimize energy consumption."

Beyond improvements in energy consumption, miners can focus on automating both processes and vehicles to achieve significant productivity gains. In an article to World Coal, ABB's Adrian Beer suggested that the integration of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) can help miners achieve dramatic efficiency gains.
"[IT/OT convergence] allows the entire operation to optimize its production processes to maximize efficiency improvements, sometimes as high as 5-10%, which are results that drop straight to the bottom line."
As sensors become increasingly affordable and as equipment becomes more internet-capable, mining companies will be able to collect and analyze large amounts of data enabling them to pinpoint drains on productivity.

Mobius Command and Control software allows unmanned vehicles to perform in hazardous areas without endangering the operator.
Our Mobius Command and Control software allows unmanned vehicles to perform in hazardous areas without endangering the operator.

"The move toward autonomous vehicles and automated technologies has already revolutionized mining operations," reads Deloitte. "As the 'intelligence' of these machines grows, they will be able to perform increasingly complex tasks, including hazardous activities--reducing labor costs and enhancing productivity as a result." Mining major Rio Tinto demonstrated in numbers released in October that a network of autonomous haul trucks in the Pilbara region outperformed a manned fleet by an average of 12%.

Investment in innovation holds many benefits to mining companies, but this is only one of the suggestions offered by the mining experts at Deloitte. To explore additional suggestions and to gear up for mining in 2016,



The 2016 Robotics Business Review logo

Autonomous Solutions, Inc. (ASI) has been elected to Robotics Business Review (RBR) fifth annual RBR50 list for the second straight year. ASI has been recognized as one of the most noteworthy companies in the global robotics industry for 2016 alongside robotic giants like Google, FANUC, and Foxconn.

RBR50 companies are recognized based on their innovation, groundbreaking applications, commercial success and potential, and represent many different levels and facets of the robotics ecosystem.

“We are thrilled to be elected to the RBR50 for a second year in a row. After 15 years in business the technology readiness and customer demand are finally converging for what looks to be an exponential adoption curve,” says Mel Torrie, ASI founder and CEO. “We have seen more demand in the last 18 months than we’ve seen in the previous 15 years and we’re fortunate to have assembled the needed productization team to complement our research capability. We could not have accomplished this organic growth without patient and forward looking early adopter partners and we are thankful for their support.”


ASI’s hardware and software robotic building blocks are used in productizing driverless ground vehicle systems for applications like mining, agriculture, cleaning, security, and automotive. Customers are starting to realize the benefits of this technology including higher safety, dramatically lower maintenance costs, and maximum productivity. Thanks to the downward trend of sensor and processor costs the return on investment is getting higher and faster.

ASI has a very busy 2016 ahead of it according to Jared Pratt, Vice President of Business Development. Pratt says the interest for this kind of technology is only growing. “There is so much opportunity right in front of us in some of our larger industries that we could see the need for doubling our staff of 100 plus just to keep up.”

“There is so much opportunity right in front of us in some of our larger industries that we could see the need for doubling our staff of 100 plus just to keep up.”


With the robotics industry becoming more competitive than ever, new innovations, technologies, and companies are emerging faster than ever. The RBR50 list outlines those companies who should be kept on your business radar.

This international compilation spans 11 countries and in addition to the large conglomerates, 23% of the list is comprised of lesser-known startups. The RBR50 list is dynamic, with robotics companies entering and leaving on an annual basis and thus creating a list that is indicative of where the global robotics industry as a whole is headed. “The World Economic Forum cites 2016 as the launch of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and has tabbed robotics as the lead player in that transformation. Each of the RBR50 for 2016 should be duly proud that the robotics community has selected them to lead this charge,” said Tom Green, RBR Editor in Chief.


About Autonomous Solutions, Inc.

For more than 15 years, ASI has been a world leader in unmanned ground vehicle solutions. From our northern Utah headquarters, ASI serves clients around the world in the mining, agriculture, automotive, military, and manufacturing industries with remote control, teleoperated, and fully automated, coordinated multi-vehicle solutions. ASI's universal, OEM-independent technology allows organizations to improve productivity, enhance safety, reduce costs, and increase accuracy. For more information visit www.asirobots.com.

About Robotics Business Review

Robotics Business Review provides business intelligence for the global robotics industry. Members enjoy excusive insights into global news, tracking of financial transactions, analysis of new technologies and companies, annual and quarterly research reports, access to the RBR50 Top 50 Companies list and much more. Visit RoboticsBusinessReview.com.


Volatility in the mining industry caused by, amongst other things, shrinking global demand and record low commodity prices has left mining companies looking for ways to retool their organizations and processes to cope with what some are calling the “new normal.” Mining majors are beginning to exhaust classic short term fixes, such as Anglo American’s massive restructure that would release 85,000 workers over the next few years, and are now looking to other sources to achieve long term productivity and process improvements.

In the shadow of these challenges, Deloitte released "Tracking the Trends 2016 " The report is designed to focus on the current issues in the mining industry and provide suggestions on where miners can go to meet these challenges. We previously focused on Deloitte’s recommendation to invest in innovation and the massive productivity gains achieved by several mining companies by leveraging technology.

In another strategy, Deloitte suggests mining companies build bridges with other industries to learn and incorporate lessons on process optimization. The manufacturing and automotive industries in particular have a long history with lean production systems as well as investment in robotic technology.


The mining industry can learn from the automotive industry's automation


"The Ford Motor Company is a salient case in point," says Deloitte. "In 2006, the company lost over US$12 billion following a collapse in consumer demand. Between 2011 and 2014, however, Ford realized annual profits ranging from US$6.2 billion to US$8.3 billion."


One of the reasons for this dramatic turnaround—of which we at ASI have a particularly intimate knowledge—was Ford's willingness to
"embrace emerging technologies, such as robotics, self-driving vehicles, connecting vehicles to the cloud, and hybrid and electric vehicle development."
Since 2011, ASI has been working with Ford to develop a robotic durability testing program . The program improves safety by removing test drivers from the most jarring test tracks and improves productivity by allowing vehicles to test 24/7. The same automation technologies that delivered productivity and safety improvements to Ford's durability testing program can be realized in mining vehicle automation.

“Although there are as many differences between the automotive and mining sectors as there are similarities,” Deloitte concluded,
“forward-thinking miners can likely make unanticipated productivity gains by taking lessons from this example.”

Looking to and leveraging lessons learned by other industries may hold the key for improving productivity for mining companies, but this is just one of the suggestions offered by Deloitte. To explore additional suggestions and to gear up for mining in 2016,



"Unfortunately, primarily due to risk aversion (of cost and technology) there is an old adage in the mining sector that 'miners like to be first to be second,'" says EY's Business Risks Facing Metals and Mining 2016 report which focuses on ten industry conditions that could create risks or opportunities for mining companies going into the new year. Amongst the risks highlighted by EY, innovation, or rather mining's natural aversion to innovation, makes the No. 10 spot.

"It is clear that compared with most other sectors, there is a deficit of transformational innovation in the [mining] sector," EY reported.
"The first automated truck was seen 20 years ago and yet there is not a complete fleet in existence at a mine."
The closest thing we have seen to having a fully automated fleet is Rio Tinto's Mine of the Future that touts a network of 69 unmanned haul trucks. Rio's competitors are working to catch up, but in 20 years should not the sector as a whole be farther down the innovation cycle with a technology that is clearly beneficial?

EY's point? Those that innovate will survive. Those that don't? Well, you get the idea.

So, where is the innovation? Driven by seemingly unending demand of the super-cycle's upswing and peak, mining companies were scaling with one focus: output. Little consideration was placed on productivity or innovation, only meeting demand as quickly as possible. However, with today's market now swinging the other direction, miners find themselves in opposite conditions with boards and investors highly averse to any spending outside of necessary operations.

Even amidst these conditions, EY suggests miners are still in a position for investment in innovation: "Just as 'necessity is the mother of invention,' so is super-correction the catalyst for fresh innovation in the sector." As short-term cost cutting methods have been depleted, the report goes on to recommend innovation as a major key to surviving the bottom of the cycle and positioning companies to take off when the anticipated upswing takes place.

As can be seen from the opening quote, though, mining companies that are interested in innovating face an uphill battle, both culturally and through current market conditions. Our aim today is to provide three ways mining companies can avoid the pain of incorporating innovation into their operations:


the Cover of the 2015-2016 EY business risks in mining and metals report


Despite polarizing arguments, manned and unmanned vehicles both hold significant benefits for the mining industry. Miners should look at identifying what mix of human labor and automation is right for their operation.

While studying up on automation in mining, one will generally run across two perspectives. The first perspective is that of automation supporters touting it as 'the' new disruptive technology that will solve nearly all mine safety issue while simultaneously creating dramatic improvements in productivity. The other perspective is that of human labor supporters raising warning flags that automation will eliminate most human-based jobs, leaving a working class unemployed and communities trampled and destitute while corporations line their pockets with profits.

With strong polarizing influencing tugging on this issue, what is the actual position that automation will eventually take? According to Accenture's Nigel Court, the most realistic place is likely somewhere in the middle. "Automation is now being looked at not as a panacea to fix productivity and efficiency on site, rather people are focusing on how it can be applied to solve specific problems encountered on site," Court told Australian Mining's Cole Latimer in his article A Revolution Revolt? The Next Stage of Mining Automation. Court went on to explain that one of Accenture's clients was considering full site automation, but after evaluation "they've come to realize that a combination of both manned and unmanned [is needed] to gain top performance."


Why might a mixed solution be the best?


general and specific intelligence working together


Humans are well equipped for more complex cognitive skills such as adaptation, critical thinking, and creativity. Where mining jobs require troubleshooting and problem solving, creating solutions and making decisions based on data analysis, and adapting solutions to a variety of variables, human labor far outshines machination.

Conversely, humans are not especially good at dull or repetitive tasks (we get bored or tired resulting in a loss of precision), and we generally like to avoid jobs that are dirty and dangerous. By design, machines/robots are much more accurate than humans, making them better suited for repetitive tasks that require precision over long periods of time. In dirty and dangerous tasks, safety would dictate that substituting human labor for machine labor is the best option.

Automated vehicles may provide the dramatic improvements in efficiency and productivity that today's miners are seeking, but that's not to say that automation is always the best solution. Humans deal very well with anomalies where machines may have trouble. For example, Court described a situation where automation technologies, many still in the testing/proving stages, may actually detract from efficiency:



"A rollercoaster ride" might be the only way to describe 2015 in the mining industry—minus the fun and thrill. Fueled by an economic slowdown in China and a collapse in commodity prices, mining companies globally have been feeling the pain and are turning to drastic measures as they try to cope.

In what reports say is China's largest layoff in recent history, the Heilongjiang Longmay Mining Holding Group Co. announced in late September that it would lay off approximately 40% of its workforce, a staggering 100,000 workers, in order to "stop the bleeding." Anglo American announced in early December it would release 85,000 workers over the next few years in a restructure that would shed 60% of assets.

general and specific intelligence working togetherCommodities price graphs were pulled from NASDAQ on Dec 12th, 2015. Y axis is adjusted to each commodity's price; They are not relative to each other.


With most miners reeling in a similar manner it might come as a surprise that one research group recommends mining companies begin now to invest in future growth. "The switch to growth is looming and assets are now still relatively cheap and ripe for opportunistic acquisition," states EY's Business Risks Facing Mining and Metals 2015-2016 report.
"Given the long lead time to develop new supply, decisions to invest for future growth have to be made now or long-term returns will be lowered."


"It is the paradox that long-term reinvestment and growth is essential for the sustainability of the sector and yet public capital markets are still demanding the opposite," the report continued. "Switch to Growth" made the No. 1 spot in EY’s 2015-2016 risk rankings.

Drastic short-term measures, such as cost cutting and layoffs, can only do so much before long-term solutions must be addressed. "Having reached a ceiling on cost reduction, mining companies have since made substantial progress with their productivity initiatives and working capital solutions," EY's report reads. "We believe that real productivity gains will only come from an end-to-end transformation." EY places "Productivity Improvement" in the No. 2 spot of their 2015-2016 risk rankings.



The Robo Universe Logo

ASI was recently a participant and sponsor of the RoboUniverse robotics conference in San Diego, California. Autonomous Solutions, Inc.’s (ASI) CEO, Mel Torrie, was a keynote speaker and a panel member sharing insights into the robotics world. Mr. Torrie discussed many of the successes and advancements that ASI has made in the robotics industry in autonomy. He also presented about many of the challenges facing the industry and some of the paths ASI is heading down.

"We’re going to get to a place where our #trees have #wearable technology like our bodies," says @RobotCEO.
@ASIRobots
#AgTech
#RoboUniverse


As sensor technologies continue to develop, the cost of these sensors will decrease making them more and more cost efficient and more applicable. These sensors could be placed on trees, vines, or in the ground in areas to measure all kinds of important environmental information. This information could be monitored and relayed to an autonomous vehicle that would be tasked to perform a specific action for that specific area.

"Scalability will be limited by serviceability - service and support is critical." @RobotCEO
@ASIRobots
#RoboUniverse

For autonomous vehicles to really move into many various facets of everyday life, scalability will be limited by serviceability. Diagnostics must be reliable and quick to identify any potential issues a system may encounter - then be able to get someone on it quickly to correct the problem.


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Photos © 2015 RoboUniverse Staff