The true benefit of autonomous vehicles may not be so much in how they make the task of driving safer by taking the tedium out of it, but in how they make our tasks easier by taking the tedium of driving around to perform those tasks.
That’s the thinking Honda used in creating its Autonomous Work Vehicle (HAWV) prototype, the support vehicle that will be shown at CES 2019 in Las Vegas early in the New Year, with the intent of adapting it to firefighting and agriculture applications, among others.
Honda will be pitching business and technology partners at CES, envisioning the ATV-based 4WD HAWV applications to a variety of industries, including mining, search and rescue, disaster relief, construction, security, landscaping and snow removal.
The prototype uses GPS and sensor-based autonomy to guide the unit in pretty much every environment, is fitted with on-board power plug-ins, and employs a rail accessory system for endless possibilities for accessories and attachments. It can also be programmed in various modes — A-to-B, Pattern, and Follow-Me — to suit a variety of applications.
The Prototype is the latest iteration of the autonomous work vehicle concept introduced at this past year’s CES.
Honda showed its vision of the Autonomous Work Vehicle as a concept at CES 2018, and we’ve been testing in real-world scenarios to demonstrate the value and capabilities of this unique machine,” said Pete Wendt, senior planner in Advanced Product Planning for Honda R&D Americas. “Honda is looking for additional partners to evolve the technology and develop attachments or accessories that will expand the potential uses for the Autonomous Work Vehicle.”
The prototype has been beta tested by various partners in a broad range of environments, including wildland firefighting (transporting chainsaws, water packs and other supplies and equipment in Follow-Me mode), vegetation management at a 72-hectare solar-power farm (using a tow-behind mower to the work performed by sheep and manual labour), and agricultural research (working in A-to-B mode to transport harvested crops from field to packing operations, as well as spraying for weed- and pest-control).
Honda hopes to connect with other partners to develop accessories and attachments to expand the HAWV’s potential applications, expand the industries that it may be applicable to, and further improve the vehicle platform and off-road autonomy.