Honda and Black & Veatch have successfully tested 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 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 preset destinations within the worksite.
While Honda previously performed testing with an earlier generation of the Honda AWV, 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 result is a new category of capable work vehicle that can be deployed in a variety of dynamic work environments. The 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 on construction optimization and technology innovation, collaborated with Honda to provide a real-world testing ground to validate the AWV technology at an active construction site. The company’s personnel were trained by Honda 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 AWV’s capabilities and services.
“Black & Veatch’s pursuit of construction innovation and safety on jobsites 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.”
“With our test partner, Black & Veatch, Honda was able to demonstrate the performance of our rugged all-electric Autonomous Work Vehicle prototype in a large-scale construction environment,” said Kenton Williams, U.S. project lead for the Honda AWV. “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.”
Field Test Performance
In order to validate the capabilities of the AWV, the company 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 AWV to stop at precise points along a preset 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 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 AWV battery system to 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 lbs., and in a separate use case towed a trailer carrying over 1,600 lbs.
Solutions and Services for a Variety of Industries
Based on the capabilities verified in this field test, Honda believes 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 where workforce constraints and safety concerns make other solutions impractical. The ability to operate autonomously – or via remote control – and carry large payloads, along with the potential to add attachments and tools, makes the AWV a suitable platform for many work environments.
Honda has not announced commercialization plans for the AWV, but continues to advance the platform through field testing.