CES 2019: Honda to Seek Partners for Self-Driving Work Vehicle Tests

December 13, 2018 by Sebastian Blanco, @SebastianBlanco

Honda Motor Co. will bring its Autonomous Work Vehicle back to the Consumer Electronics Show as it seeks business and technology partners to push development of the off-road ATV.

The Honda Autonomous Work Vehicle is a modification of the company’s ATV and uses GPS technology and sensors so that it can drive itself in most environments. The self-driving robot also has a rail accessory mount system to accept accessories and attachments and provide onboard power for tools.

Honda unveiled the small autonomous vehicle, then called the 3E-D18, at CES in 2018. It said the off-road-concept vehicle was built with artificial intelligence that was “designed to support people in a broad range of work activities.”

Testing scenarios

Since then, Honda has tested the renamed “Honda Autonomous Work Vehicle” in three
scenarios:

  • In North Carolina, the ATV was used on a 178-acre solar operations company with a tow-behind mower. The ATV has a “pattern” mode for landscape and agriculture tasks.
  • In Colorado, the four-wheeled robot was equipped with a gear rack to carry supplies and equipment for firefighters. Then, it was placed in “follow me” mode to trail behind the firefighters as they moved to the fire’s front lines.
  • In California, the Autonomous Work Vehicle was used with an agricultural and environmental sciences college to help workers spray and harvest crops. After workers loaded the vehicle with produce, it automatically drove the crops to its destination for unloading.

Honda will use its CES 2019 appearance to find new partners to collaborate with on new tasks for the vehicle and to further develop its technology and sensors for better off-road autonomy. Aside from the tests Honda conducted in the past year, Honda’s R&D engineers think the AWV could be used for tasks like search and rescue operations, on construction sites and for snow removal.

At CES 2018, the 3E-D18 was part of a four-robot lineup of mobility concepts that included the 3E-A18 companion robot, the 3E-B18 “chair-type mobility concept” and the 3E-C18, an electric mobility concept that can carry cargo. The “3E” in the Honda concepts stands for “Empower, Experience, Empathy.”

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