Honda plans to unveil a prototype Autonomous Work Vehicle at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show (CES) which takes place in Las Vegas next month. Over the past year, the automaker has tested the prototype in a variety of applications, including contruction, agriculture, and emergency response.
The Autonomous Work Vehicle is based on Honda’s all-terrain vehicle (ATV) chassis. It incorporates GPS and sensor-based autonomy, a rail accessory mount for a variety of accessories and attachments, and onboard power plug-ins. The vehicle can be programmed in different modes of autonomy — "Follow Me," "Pattern," and "A to B" — to accommodate a range of applications.
Since it was first introduced a year ago at CES 2018, Honda has worked with partners to beta test the vehicle in a variety of work environments, including a large-scale solar operations company, a wildland firefighting division, and an agricultural and environmental sciences college.
For the solar operations company, vegetation management is one of its biggest challenges to reliable and affordable energy generation. It currently uses both sheep and manual labor to keep the vegetation under control. Honda equipped a tow-behind mower to the Autonomous Work Vehicle allowing it to remove weeds around the solar panels efficiently and safely.
Currently, wildland firefighters in Colorado carry approximately 60 pounds of equipment, including chainsaws and water packs, while navigating steep terrain. To relieve this physical strain, Honda installed a gear rack on the Autonomous Work Vehicle to transport supplies, equipment, and water. The vehicle autonomously followed the firefighters with their gear in tow.
Working with an agricultural and environmental sciences college in California, the Honda Autonomous Work Vehicle supported the harvest of crops and spray applications. Honda equipped the vehicle with a gear rack and crates so agricultural workers could more easily load and transport crops using “A to B” mode. The Autonomous Work Vehicle was also fitted with a variety of work implements, including a spraying application for weed and pest control. This real-world testing demonstrated the Autonomous Work Vehicle's ability to save time and minimize the potential for injury to workers in the agriculture industry.