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Honda Tests Autonomous Work Vehicle at Solar Construction Site

HondaWorkVehicle400x275

November 15, 2021

Honda and Black & Veatch have announced a successful test of the prototype Honda Autonomous Work Vehicle (AWV) at a Black & Veatch construction site in New Mexico. During the month-long field test, the second-generation of the fully electric Honda AWV was able to perform several tasks 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 work site.

While Honda said it previously performed testing with an earlier generation of the AWV, this field test was the first one to deploy multiple units working collaboratively to support construction use cases. First introduced at CES 2018 as a concept, the Honda AWV combines the company’s rugged and durable off-road side-by-side platform with advanced autonomous technologies. This results in a work vehicle that can be deployed in several dynamic work environments. The Honda AWV uses a suite of sensors to operate autonomously, uses GPS for location, radar and lidar for obstacle detection, and stereoscopic 3D cameras for remote monitoring. Honda said the vehicle can also be operated by remote control.

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

“Black & Veatch’s pursuit of construction innovation and safety on job sites has led us to this relationship with Honda,” said Mario Azar, president of Black & Veatch’s global power business. “With our leading market position in solar power, the testing of this new autonomous work vehicle aligns with our focus on advancing the industry through new and innovative ways to work at project sites.”

“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.

In order to validate the capabilities of the Honda AWV, the company said it selected a solar energy construction site where support structures for solar panels are laid out in a grid pattern at regular intervals. This was ideal to test the ability of the Honda AWV to stop at precise points along a pre-set route. Honda said it 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 vehicles using a cloud-based app interface that runs on tablets and PCs. Honda said the vehicles successfully delivered materials and supplies along a calculated route and proved capable of stopping within centimeters of the pre-set points.

Honda added the field test also demonstrated that the Honda AWV battery system could support energy-intensive sensors and provide vehicle propulsion while operating 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, Honda said.

Based on the field test, Honda said the AWV will be capable of providing “a wide range of services to a variety of industries that need a rugged off-road autonomous solution<” especially in areas where workforce and safety concerns make other solutions impractical. The company has not announced any commercialization plans for the vehicle, but said it will continue to advance the platform through field testing. Companies interested in testing the vehicle to assess applicability in their own work environment can contact Honda here.

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