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A Utah Company Is Putting Driverless Technology Into More Than Just Cars

Aimee Cobabe



On a test track in Mendon, Utah, cars drive in a circle, stop at a crosswalk and start again. It’s not a very sexy scene, except for the fact that no one is driving the cars - they’re moving autonomously.

According to Matt Nielsen, Autonomous Solutions marketing director, his company is putting robotics technology into more than just vehicles. They’ve moved on to industrial vacuums, trucks and even busses.

“So at Autonomous Solutions we develop technology that goes into vehicles to take the humans out of the vehicles," Nielson said.

Tractors, a whole fleet of them, are the newest machines to receive this driverless technology.

According to Mel Torrie, president of Autonomous Solutions, one reason for this development is pretty simple.

“Driving in a circle for 18 hours a day isn’t what we were created for," Torrie said.

When the tractors officially hit the market—it’s just a concept right now—it will change with the weather, avoid obstacles and work along with other similar machinery. And all of this will be controlled by one farmer.

“They are just there as a safety guard more than anything," Nielson said.

Unlike humans, Nielson said the machines can work around the clock.

“And these will offer farmers the capability to run truly 24 hours a day," he said. "In critical times like harvest or planting when time really is the most important thing, they can be running through the night to get all that done.”

In addition, the machines will be monitored around the world.

“You would never have workers who would have to work the night shift," Torrie said. "So when it’s daytime in India, you have them running the solutions that are running in America. And then when it’s daytime here, you have people run it here. And when it’s daytime in Australia, you have people run the operation here.”

The hope is that one person will eventually be able to monitor multiple tractors all working on one field.

According to Torrie, the technology hasn’t been welcomed by everyone. He said people’s jobs would be replaced by this technology, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“We’re finding, like down in South Africa where we have an autonomous mine running, that the truck drivers are now moving into the command centers, they’re managing multiple pieces of equipment. It’s a better work environment--they’re not beating themselves up.”