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October 20th, 2011
Leica Geosystems Introduces Autonomous and Remote Controlled Mining

Choosing an industry partner for such an important role was not done lightly. Mr. Haydn Roberts, CEO of Leica Geosystems Mining states, “We chose to work with ASI because they are the only OEM independent company that has developed and field tested fully autonomous mining equipment.  They have a strong history in R&D and have hundreds of unmanned vehicles in industries like agriculture, mining, material handling, and the military.”

For six years ASI has worked specifically in the development and deployment of automation packages for mining trucks, bulldozers, drills, and shovels.  ASI has been in the robotics industry for eleven years and has fully operational, autonomous systems running around the world in factories, mines, and military bases.  In partnership with Leica Geosystems they plan to transition their fully autonomous trucks, dozers and other robotic technology into the global mining market.

As Mr. Torrie, the CEO and founder of ASI, states, “We are excited by the immediate and near term product offerings this joint venture between our two companies (Leica Geosystems and ASI) is making possible. We chose to work with Leica Geosystems because they are market leaders in machine guidance and mining dispatch software which are both essential components needed for successful fielding of automation solutions in mining.  We have worked with them in the past in integrating their dispatch software with our unmanned haul trucks and we found their team to be exceptional.”

The fundamental differentiator and the key to the successful integration of this automation technology into mining is the , incremental fielding approach proven in the agricultural industry. They will work within the specific needs, constraints and safety requirements of their clients, rather than dictating parameters to them.

“We are taking the fully autonomous truck, dozer and other vehicle technologies and working with Leica Geosystems to quickly field the capabilities  like AutoSpot that will provide immediate financial returns while largely keeping people in the vehicles just like it has been employed in the Agriculture industry successfully.” states Mr. Torrie. “This progressive approach in agriculture has led to farmers reaping incredible financial benefits far sooner and at every step along the way to full automation without the risks associated with the all or nothing solutions currently being proposed in the mining industry.

Mr. Torrie explained that by building up the hours of system use, its reliability is clearly demonstrated. “Trust in our sub-systems is being established with the end user one capability at a time until the site wants to graduate to a full autonomous operation.”

Leica J3autonomous Solutions
A number of semi and fully autonomous control systems are available as a part of the Leica J3autonomous solutions. These include:

  • Haul truck “guideline” convoy system,
  • Remote-controlled, line-of-sight operated systems,
  • Tele-op systems (operators work remotely via an operations center using video feed and site plans),
  • Fully autonomous ripping for dozers (with a resultant 50% faster ripping rate),
  • A fully remote controlled all terrain walking track robot for underground mine surveying, post-blast analysis, and safety operations using its many sensor and robotic arm options).

Entry level base-line Tele-Op and Remote Control solutions are available for any mine machine and can be upgraded to a fully autonomous solution according to client requirements.  Other product offerings are in user trials and will be announced soon.

“To be a premier mine management solution and a tier one provider you have to be involved with autonomous and have safety systems.” states Mr. Roberts, “At Leica Geosystems we are committed to remaining the world’s leading measurement technology company. We aim to support the whole of life mine cycle and provide the best management solutions for each part of the mining process. The formation of strong, exclusive partnerships with companies that are absolute leaders in their fields, companies like ASI, are key to that.”

Leica Geosystems – when it has to be right
With close to 200 years of experience pioneering solutions to measure the world, Leica Geosystems products and services are trusted by professionals worldwide to help them capture, analyze, and present spatial information. Leica Geosystems is best known for its broad array of products that capture accurately, model quickly, analyze easily, and visualize and present spatial information.

Those who use Leica Geosystems products every day trust them for their dependability, the value they deliver, and the superior customer support. Based in Heerbrugg, Switzerland, Leica Geosystems is a global company with tens of thousands of customers supported by more than 3,500 employees in 28 countries and hundreds of partners located in more than 120 countries around the world. Leica Geosystems is part of the Hexagon Group, Sweden.