Autonomous Solutions, Inc. (ASI) has improved an algorithm for autonomous vehicles to detect drop-offs and other large negative obstacles often found in the environments in which automated off-road vehicles operate.

“ASI has developed a method for mapping point cloud occlusions in real-time,” said Taylor Bybee, Perception Tech Lead at ASI. “Which provides additional accuracy and safety when integrated into an autonomous vehicle obstacle detection and avoidance system.”

For safe navigation through an environment, autonomous ground vehicles rely on sensor data representing 3D space surrounding the vehicle. Often this data is obscured by objects or terrain, producing gaps in the sensor field of view. These gaps, or occlusions, can indicate the presence of obstacles, negative obstacles, or rough terrain.

Occlusions can be defined as a blockage which prevents a sensor from gathering data in a location. For example, occlusions can be seen as shadows in LiDAR data.

Because sensors receive no data in these occlusions, sensor data provides no explicit information about what might be found in the occluded areas. Information about the occlusions must be inferred from using an occlusion mapping algorithm to provide the navigation system with a more complete model of the environment.

“While sensor data itself doesn’t tell us what’s in the occluded areas, occlusions can represent negative obstacles like drop-offs or areas behind large obstacles,” said Jeff Ferrin, CTO at ASI. “It’s important to identify these areas for obstacle detection and avoidance to work properly.”

Application of this new technology can be useful in settings with dump edges at mine sites, steep road edges, canals, ditches, hills or stairs for indoor or urban environments.

The occlusion mapping algorithm has three main components.

The first is a sensor field of view (FOV) model that describes what obstacles the sensors are expected to detect. This component is designed for point cloud sensors such as 3D LiDAR, Flash LiDAR, Structured Light, and Stereo Cameras.

Second, an occlusion map is maintained and updated using the sensor FOV model and current sensor data to provide a probabilistic estimate on areas that have not been detected within the sensor FOV.

The third component is the integration of the occlusion map into an autonomous vehicle navigation system. It is designed to work with and complement existing obstacle detection and avoidance systems.

About ASI

Autonomous Solutions, Inc. (ASI) is a world leader in industrial vehicle automation. ASI serves clients across the world in the mining, agriculture, automotive, government, and manufacturing industries with remote control, teleoperation, and fully automated solutions from its headquarters and 100-acre proving ground in northern Utah.

Autonomous Solutions proving ground management solution has been adopted by many of the world’s leading automotive manufacturers including Ford, Toyota and other major manufacturers. These global leaders from the US, Europe, and Asia leverage ASI’s Mobius command and control solution as their proving ground management platform to drastically increase efficiency and productivity while improving the accuracy of their test results and ultimately the safety of their proving grounds.

“My favorite part of the Autonomous Solutions technology is working with ASI,” says Crystal Mink, senior engineer for Toyota Motors North America.

ASI is a leader in automotive durability and misuse testing offering flexible solutions to fit its customers’ needs while helping its customers achieve competitive advantages. When new vehicles are being developed by these automakers, they must be rigorously tested for safety and durability to meet high standard set by regulatory bodies before they are sold to the general public.

“My favorite part of the Autonomous Solutions technology is working with ASI,” says Crystal Mink, senior engineer for Toyota Motors North America. “Seeing how systematic they are – and they’re giving us great capability through that thorough process.”

Traditionally, driving tests were carried out by human drivers, however, driverless robots have proven to be safer, more accurate, and more efficient. By using robotic drivers, these manufacturers are no longer restricted by stringent regulations which limit driver time to under 2 hours on these tracks in many cases.

Truck on test track at Ford
2018 Ford F250 on test track at a Ford proving ground.

These tests that auto manufacturers must put their vehicles through to prove them out are extremely rough and hazardous to human health. Drivers are often injured and sent to hospitals. These tracks and tests are so rough and must be executed so precisely, even professional drivers can struggle to pass them. ASI driverless robots, utilizing the latest in driverless technology, are able to consistently stay on course and follow the track test instructions precisely. This means less errors, better test results, and lower costs.

“The Mobius platform is very beneficial because it allows us to run all the vehicles from one location,” says Jeff Bledsoe, durability technical specialist for Ford Motor Company.

How is the technology integrated into various types of vehicles? ASI’s technology is OEM agnostic and can be put into nearly any vehicle, make, model, or year. Whether the vehicle has electronic or mechanical controls, ASI’s driverless robotic kits are installed and integrated into a vehicle. It can be moved from one vehicle to another quite easily and also allows a human driver to sit in the driver seat and drive the vehicle manually when needed.

Some infrastructure is required on site for communications between the vehicles on the track and a control room where operators oversee the operation.

“The Mobius platform is very beneficial because it allows us to run all the vehicles from one location,” says Jeff Bledsoe, durability technical specialist for Ford Motor Company.

Vehicles are tasked to execute the prescribed tests from here. These tests are setup within Mobius and a single operator can oversee multiple vehicles from the control room.

Contact ASI today to learn how this technology can revolutionize your proving ground and bring the benefits of automation to your automotive testing.

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.

Want More Info?

Watch the Video Here

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

ASI Steering Robot on a Ford F-150

ASI’s Automation Kit will be featured on cable TV’s popluar show Translogic. The episode will air on Velocity some date in the near future, click the link below to see the clip now.

Translogic producer, Jonathan Buckley, takes a ride in a Ford truck that has no driver. Instead, it is equipped with one of ASI’s automation robots.

Ford uses ASI’s driverless solutions on vehicles at their Michigan proving ground on tracks designed to put vehicles through the toughest of tests. These tests can be abusive on human drivers and there are limits to how long a driver can operate a vehicle on these types of tracks. So using these automation kits for Ford provides safe, accurate, and repeatable results.

See ASI’s Automation Kit in action at the Ford Proving Grounds.

In recent field trials at ASI's corporate testing facility in Petersboro, Utah, autonomous dozers took to the mountainside, performing robotic area clearance and slot dozing patterns.

Over the past few weeks, ASI's mining team entered the testing phase for a robotic dozer project. The team executed a slot dozing and area clearance demonstration at ASI's headquarters near Mendon, UT. Despite some early Spring weather setbacks, the mining team has been pleased with the results.

The technology used to convert this dozer from manual to robotic control is similar to what ASI used to automate more than 70 different vehicle types including mining vehicles, farming equipment, consumer vehicles, and even ATVs. The "kit" consists of NAV™ (the onboard computer and communications system), Vantage® (obstacle detection and avoidance features), and Mobius™ (command and control software).

Together, these components form a universal automation solution for vehicles of all shapes, sizes, and applications.

Due to its dedication to miner safety and the productivity implications of automation, the mining industry is one of the most progressive markets in deploying robotic technology. ASI has implemented robotics on a variety of mining platforms including dozers, excavators, rigid haul trucks, articulated dump trucks, and drills.

The video shows the robotic dozer testing in action (look close, there's no driver!).

For more information, fill out the form at the bottom of this page or contact an ASI representative.

Discovery Channel Canada's science and technology news series, Daily Planet, aired the Bingham Canyon Mine story as part of their September 23, 2013 episode.

One of the largest landslides in mining history quickly became a showcase for autonomous mining technology. Shortly after the April 10th slide, administrators of the Bingham Canyon Mine (Kennecott/Rio Tinto) near Salt Lake City, Utah, began looking for innovative ways to clean up the debris, much of which is steep and unstable. With more than ten years of experience automating mining equipment, Autonomous Solutions, Inc. (ASI) provided the technology for six remote control excavators to assist cleanup efforts.

The application of ASI's vehicle robotics caught the attention of media outlets, including the Discovery Channel Canada's Daily Planet, which highlights interesting technology applications around the world in short documentaries. The Daily Planet joined ASI reps at the Bingham Canyon Mine to see the effects of the slide and robotic mining equipment in action.

"The scope of the slide was immense," said Jared Pratt, VP of Business Development for ASI who was onsite with production crews. "It was hard to mentally frame due to the scale of both the mine and the equipment addressing it."

"The remote control solutions for the excavators were and are a critical component of the remediation," continued Pratt. "The technology allows for heavy machinery to operate in the slide area near the face of the pit without putting individuals in harm's way."

So far, robotic technology has been responsible for clearing more than 80,000 tons of material from the unstable areas near the top of the slide. Clearly, there's still a long way to go, but equipped with the latest technologies, Kennecott is pushing cleanup efforts forward while ensuring the safety of their employees.

Translogic highlights the LAPD Batcat. Watch Video

Aol Auto's Translogic series highlights the BatCat telehandler operated by the Los Angeles Police Department. Watch Video.

Bad guys, beware! The BatCat will get you. Aol Auto's Translogic series released a video highlighting the Bomb Assessment Tactical Counter Assault Tool (BatCat) owned and operated by the Los Angeles Police Department's bomb squad. The specialized fork lift can be used in a variety of applications, including: breaching buildings, inspecting bombs, and even supporting a sniper perch.

The BatCat was designed to be an all-purpose, heavy duty telehandler that can be driven manually or by remote control depending on the danger of the situation. That's where Autonomous Solutions, Inc. comes in. ASI handled the vehicle automation technology that enables officers to drive the BatCat remotely, allowing officers to operate downrange without physically being in danger.

The same robotic technology found in the BatCat is also being used by the US Air Force for target vehicles, Ford Motor Company's robotic durability program, and other mining and agricultural groups.

"The whole idea is we want to be able to keep people out of harm's way," said ASI's Eric Budd during his Translogic interview.

"BatCat is designed to be very methodical, and very precise," said Officer Rich Nagatoshi who was instrumental in bringing the BatCat to the LAPD. The BatCat can be equipped with a variety of attachments such as lifting forks or even a massive claw capable of crushing a car. The BatCat's versatility makes is the first choice of bomb squad officers in difficult and dangerous situations. "When we roll up on scene, it's because they need us."

This video features a Lego Mindstorms creation patterned after Chaos™ High Mobility Robot.

Another Chaos-like design built using Lego Kinect.

Have you heard of LEGO Mindstorms? If not, you're quickly becoming a minority. The popular brand Mindstorms was created by the Denmark-based LEGO Group, taking its purpose of "[engaging] in the development of children's creativity through playing and learning” to an entirely new level. Developed to cultivate the next generation of engineers—or even to get us older folks in touch with our inner child—Mindstorms uses basic robotic software and specialized LEGO parts to enable anyone to build and test robotic creations of all shapes and sizes.

We were reminded of the flexibility of LEGO Mindstorms and the engineering prowess of its customers when we found a pair of YouTube videos that featured Mindstorm (or LEGO Technic) creations inspired by our Chaos™ High Mobility Robot. Chaos is a unique small robot platform that uses four independently rotating track arms to lift itself over all types of obstacles and terrain including rocks, logs and branches, and snow. Check out the very admirable attempts of these LEGO Mindstorm engineers to recreate Chaos!

As a robotics company, we are on the cutting edge of technology development and application. We see hundreds of forms of robotics finding their way into the mainstream: vehicle automation technologies like those found in our own solutions, fully autonomous consumer vehicles like the Google (and soon to be Lexus and Audi) Car, robotic surgery systems, manufacturing/materials handling robots, classroom robots, and even humanoid robots. We applaud LEGO for providing the tools to develop the next generation of engineers and stirring the creativity in us all.

Chaos High Mobility Robot four independently rotating track arms enable it to go and do what no other small robot platform in its class can.

"It climbs stairs like a BOSS!" exclaimed neamerjell. "That's one of the coolest robots I've seen yet," said thegreatnoleander. "Dear Santa… AWESOME!" wrote TheGameplayr. Chaos™ High Mobility Robot is making some serious noise on YouTube. The video showcasing the small robot platform just surpassed the 100,000 views mark and continues to register more as robot enthusiasts are scouring the web for the latest and greatest.

"Chaos gets most of its interest from its four independently rotating tracks," says Mel Torrie, developer of Chaos and CEO of ASI. "Not only do these tracks give it a high level of mobility over uneven, rocky ground, but it also gives Chaos a quite unique look that turns a lot of heads."

Chaos was originally developed as a military support robot capable of transporting supplies through combat zones, persistent surveillance and scouting, and bomb disposal.

The small robot platform can accept a variety of payloads—including robotic arms, 3D imaging equipment, high definition video cameras, and more—making Chaos ideal for a number of both military, scientific, and industrial applications.

Autonomous Solutions, Inc. deploys Chaos units in both domestic and international markets for military and mining customers. Most notably, the small robot was deployed in a South African gold mine to explore and test conditions after blasting. This small robot is making a big difference.

Sadly, not everyone seems to be on board with Chaos. "Too bad the Globalists are gearing up to use this type of technology to cut down the Constitutional Resistance," writes justinwoolee. "[ASI] you should just call yourself Skynet because you know not what you do, until it's too late!" Well, I guess you just can't please everyone.