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Honda tests prototype autonomous work vehicle

November 17, 2021 -  By
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(Photo: Honda)

Honda and Black & Veatch has successfully tested a prototype Honda Autonomous Work Vehicle (AWV) at a Black & Veatch construction site in New Mexico. During the month-long field test, the second-generation prototype of the fully electric Honda AWV performed a range of functions at a large-scale solar energy construction project, including towing activities and transporting construction materials, water and other supplies to pre-set destinations within the worksite.

Watch a video of the Honda AWV:

The company said this field test was the first to deploy multiple units working collaboratively to support construction use cases.

First introduced as a concept at CES 2018 in Las Vegas, the Honda AWV combines the company’s rugged and durable off-road side-by-side platform with emerging advanced autonomous technology. The Honda AWV employs a suite of sensors to operate autonomously, using GPS for location, radar and lidar for obstacle detection and stereoscopic (3D) cameras for remote monitoring. The vehicle also can be operated by remote control.

Black & Veatch, a global engineering, procurement and construction company focused collaborated with Honda to provide real-world testing. The company’s personnel were trained by Honda’s engineers on the operation and safety protocols of the vehicles to effectively use the technology in the field. Black & Veatch provided detailed feedback for product and business requirements that will help enhance the Honda AWV’s capabilities and services.

“We believe the Honda AWV has the potential to bring greater efficiencies, higher levels of safety and better environmental performance to the construction industry and to other industries seeking an autonomous off-road solution,” said Kenton Williams, U.S. project lead for the Honda AWV.

Field Test Performance

Honda selected a solar energy construction site where support structures for solar panels are laid out in a grid pattern at regular intervals. The site was an ideal environment to test the ability of the Honda AWV to stop at precise points along a pre-set route.

Honda produced a high-definition map of the 1,000-acre site that allowed Black & Veatch operators to precisely set start and stop points for multiple Honda AWVs using a cloud-based app interface that runs on tablets and PCs. The vehicles successfully delivered materials and supplies along a calculated route and proved capable of stopping within centimeters of the pre-set points.

The field test also demonstrated the viability of the Honda AWV battery system to support energy-intensive sensors and provide vehicle propulsion, while operating for up to eight hours in a high-temperature environment. The vehicle carried payloads of nearly 900 pounds, and in a separate use case towed a trailer carrying more than 1,600 pounds.

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