TORRANCE, CA—Combining Honda’s all-terrain vehicle (ATV) and emerging advanced autonomous technology, the Autonomous Work Vehicle was designed by Honda R&D Americas to enhance efficiency and safety for public, commercial, and consumer enterprises. The company foresees the potential to support people in a variety of industries, such as search and rescue, firefighting, construction, agriculture, landscaping, and snow removal.
The Autonomous Work Vehicle is based on Honda’s ATV chassis, built on a 30-year history of accessing hard-to-reach locations with its four-wheel drive system. The prototype vehicle features GPS and sensor-based autonomy capable of guiding the unit in almost any environment, a rail accessory mount system for limitless accessories and attachments, and onboard power plug-ins. Its compact size and off-road capabilities make it highly maneuverable and suitable for a variety of locations, from dense forests to urban pedestrian zones. Further demonstrating its autonomy, the vehicle can be programmed in different modes—“Follow Me,” “Pattern,” and “A to B”—to accommodate a range of applications.
Since introducing the Autonomous Work Vehicle as a concept under the name 3E-D18 at CES 2018, Honda has worked with a variety of partners to beta test and evaluate potential uses in a broad array of environments, including a large-scale solar operations company, wildland firefighting, and an agricultural research facility.
Real-World Testing with Partners
Honda evaluated use cases for the Autonomous Work Vehicle in three different environments: a large-scale solar operations company in North Carolina, a wildland firefighting division in Colorado, and an agricultural and environmental sciences college in California.
In Colorado, one of the biggest challenges for the division that manages wildland firefighters is the allocation of resources. Currently, firefighters carry approximately 60 pounds of equipment, including chainsaws and water packs, while navigating steep terrain. This arduous task often leaves firefighters fatigued before reaching the front lines of the fire. To relieve this physical strain, minimize injury and free up manpower, Honda installed a gear rack on the Autonomous Work Vehicle to transport supplies, equipment and water. By deploying the “Follow Me” mode, the vehicle autonomously followed the firefighters with their gear in tow.
As Honda R&D engineers continue development efforts on the Autonomous Work Vehicle, the company seeks to connect with partners to create accessories and attachments that will expand the machine’s potential uses, businesses that may have a need for the vehicle, and autonomy technology and sensor developers to further improve the platform’s off-road autonomy.