Automotive

Honda tests self-driving, off-road “Autonomous Work Vehicles”

Honda tests self-driving, off-...
Honda sees potential for its AWV in a wide range of applications, including construction
Honda sees potential for its AWV in a wide range of applications, including construction
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Honda's AWV in disaster recovery mode
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Honda's AWV in disaster recovery mode
Honda's AWV helping out with search and rescue
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Honda's AWV helping out with search and rescue
Clearing snow
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Clearing snow
Autonomous security operations
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Autonomous security operations
Honda sees potential for its AWV in a wide range of applications, including construction
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Honda sees potential for its AWV in a wide range of applications, including construction
Here, the AWV is equipped with a theoretical fruit picking attachment. Such a thing does not yet exist
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Here, the AWV is equipped with a theoretical fruit picking attachment. Such a thing does not yet exist
Disaster recovery in dangerous areas without risking further human lives
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Disaster recovery in dangerous areas without risking further human lives

They're almost cute, these little seatless quadbikes, and they can be programmed to autonomously perform a bunch of handy tasks outdoors. Honda has been testing prototypes in search and rescue, firefighting, construction, agriculture, landscaping and snow removal applications, and is looking for partners to come on board to further the technology.

The rugged little autonomous work vehicle (AWV) platform is basically a Honda agricultural 4WD quad bike with the top half removed and replaced with a bunch of sensors, self driving equipment and whatever else might be required for the specific task laid out for it.

Its rail system lets you mount all sorts of accessories and plug-ins, and its fairly rudimentary autonomous capabilities let you set it to "follow me," "pattern" or "A to B" modes, which make it useful across a fairly broad range of applications.

Here, the AWV is equipped with a theoretical fruit picking attachment. Such a thing does not yet exist
Here, the AWV is equipped with a theoretical fruit picking attachment. Such a thing does not yet exist

Honda's been testing it with a mower towed behind it, keeping weeds and grass down at a 178-acre (72 ha) solar plant in North Carolina. Meanwhile, in Colorado, the fire department has had them following firefighters around, carrying heavy gear as they work their way through steep and difficult terrain on their way to control forest fires.

Autonomous security operations
Autonomous security operations

In California, they've been undergoing agricultural testing, autonomously spraying crops for weed and pest control without people being exposed to the chemicals, and shuttling back and forth carrying harvested crops from the field to the packing operation.

They're not ready to go yet; Honda is taking the vehicle (currently codenamed 3E-D18) to CES, where they were first launched last year. The company hopes to meet partners that can help develop the technology further, or collaborate to build autonomous attachments to broaden its utility.

Check out the vehicle at work in the video below.

Source: Honda

Honda Autonomous Work Vehicle: Wildland Firefighting Use Case

4 comments
kwalispecial
I've got a driveway waiting for one of these things to plow it! Nice and easy, same route every time: a few passes up and down the length of the driveway, a few transects of the parking area... No more need to pay a plow guy or shovel/snow-blow!
Nelson Hyde Chick
Technology, it gives one man the abilties of a thousand men and then it burdens the Earth with the thousand men it just made obsolete.
ljaques
If I were a company producing anything light mechanical, I'd jump on that bandwagon, develop a few add-ons for niche areas (fire, S&R, forestry, military, lifeguard) and become a multi-million dollar company from just from the exposure with Honda. Nelson, what we haven't yet developed is a way to keep the people who were put out of a job working. Communities might do better to limit the high tech stuff and increase community involvement by hiring. One thing we know for absolute certain is that we need to better manage our forests, and that will take lots of manpower AND tech. Hey, Honda, I have something for you to ponder regarding use of the AWVs!
Ivan Malagurski
Cool :)