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07.15.2013

Safety Comes Standard with ASI Vehicle Automation Kits

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Related topics: Mining · Mobius™ · Safety
8412. The number of work-related injuries reported in 2012 in the mining industry. While that number is down from previous years, clearly there is still room to improve safety in one of the most dangerous industries in the world.

"There's a lot of focus on mining safety," says Mel Torrie, CEO of Autonomous Solutions, Inc. "Mine workers are under constant threat of injury from falling objects, unstable terrain, and working with heavy machinery." Torrie, who will speak about safety at the RobotXWorld conference in late August, identifies safety as ASI's number one concern. "Vehicle automation is first and foremost a safety technology."

Each autonomy kit developed by ASI delivers four layers of safety.

At the basic level, all automated vehicles are equipped with emergency stop functionality. If a vehicle travels outside of a designated operation area, experiences a malfunction, or loses communications, the emergency stop system is initiated to halt vehicle operations until the issue can be resolved.

The on-board computer, called the vehicle control unit (VCU), serves as the brain of the automated system, relaying commands from the remote operator to the vehicle functions, monitors vehicle health indicators, and relaying data packets back to the operator.

The VCU represents the next level of safety as it actively runs more than 100 system error checks looking for errors that might cause safety issues.


While autonomous vehicles may accurately navigate by following GPS waypoints, they are still "blind" in the sense that they are unable to see potentially hazardous obstacles in their path such as animals, people, and other vehicles.

To solve this safety issue, ASI equips autonomous vehicles with obstacle detection and avoidance software and sensors that actively search for obstacles within the path of the vehicle and warn the VCU and operator of their presence. Depending on the installation, vehicles may react to obstacles with see-and-stop or see-and-avoid behavior.

The final layer of safety is ASI's command and control software, Mobius™. Operators use the Mobius path builder to determine a safety perimeter for safe autonomous operations.

If for any reason a vehicle travels outside of this perimeter, the emergency stop system halts autonomous operations until the vehicle is moved (manually or by teleoperation) back inside the safety perimeter. For systems that manage more than one vehicle, Mobius actively monitors the health indicators of all vehicles in the system and initiates proximity alerts that slow down vehicles if they are in danger of colliding.

35. The number of mining related deaths reported in 2012. That's 35 too many. With four layers of redundant safety features, ASI is setting the safety standard for autonomous vehicles that will help drive down injuries and fatalities across all industries. "Our goal is to supply our customers with solutions that not only help them improve productivity but also dramatically improve the safety of their work environment," said Torrie.