Honda successfully tested its prototype autonomous work vehicle during a month-long field test at a large-scale solar energy construction project in New Mexico.
At the Black & Veatch construction site, the fully electric autonomous work vehicle performed duties such as towing and transporting construction materials, water and other supplies to pre-set destinations at the work site.
The prototype was originally introduced as a concept at CES 2018 in Las Vegas, but this field test was the first to deploy multiple units working collaboratively to support construction use cases.
The work vehicle combines a durable off-road side-by-side platform with autonomous technology. The result is the vehicle can be deployed in a variety of work use cases. The vehicle contains a suite of sensors to operate autonomously and uses GPS for location, radar and lidar for obstacle detection, and stereoscopic (3D) cameras for remote monitoring. The vehicle can also be operated by remote control.
Black & Veatch collaborated on the real-world testing ground with its personnel trained by Honda’s engineers on the operation and safety protocols of the vehicles to use the technology in the field.
The demonstration showed the prototype autonomous work vehicle was able to perform in a large-scale construction environment and can increase safety and performance to the construction industry as well as other industries seeking an autonomous off-road solution.
The testing was done at a solar energy construction site where support structures for solar panels are laid out in a grid pattern at regular intervals. The site allowed Honda’s prototype to perform along a precise point along a pre-set route.
During the test, it carried payloads of nearly 900 lb, but in separate use cases the vehicle was able to tow a trailer carrying more than 1,600 lb.
Honda was able to produce a high-definition map of the 1,000-acre site and set start and stop points for multiple Honda autonomous work vehicles using a cloud-based app interface that runs on tablets or PCs.
Additionally, the field test demonstrated the viability of Honda’s autonomous battery system that supports energy intensive sensors and provides vehicle propulsion while operating at up to eight hours in a high temperature environment.