At CES 2018, Honda revealed several companion mobility robot concepts. It's moving forward with at least one of them, an autonomous vehicle that can go off road. Honda and engineering company Black & Veatch have been putting the second-gen Autonomous Work Vehicle (AWV) through its paces at a solar panel construction site.
This was the first field test in which several AWVs were working together. The vehicles towed trailers and carried construction materials, water and other supplies across the 1,000-acre worksite. The AWV can carry a payload of up to 399kg (880 pounds) and tow a trailer with a total weight of 750kg (1,653 pounds).
In a video that shows off the AWVs, a Black & Veatch employee notes that it can take a while to travel across such a large site. So loading up the vehicles with materials and sending them to another location can make things more efficient and cut down on employees' travel time, freeing them up to work on other things.
Honda created a high-definition map of the site so operators could set start and end points for the AWVs. It says the vehicles stopped within centimeters of their destinations. Along with operating autonomously, the AWV can be remotely controlled.
The company claims the vehicle can run for up to eight hours on a single charge, even in a high-temperature environment. The AWV uses a number of sensors for navigation, including GPS, radar and LiDAR, as well as 3D cameras for remote monitoring. Honda says that even with a maximum payload capacity, the AWV has a range of up to 27.9 miles, depending on the use case.
The automaker is aiming to improve the performance and design of the AMV as it iterates on the prototype (it looks kinda cute as is). It might offer the ability to add attachments and tools as well. Honda hasn't revealed plans to release a commercial version of the AMV just yet, though.