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While landscapers know how valuable UTVs can be on design-build jobs, the next thing is already in development. Last week, Honda and Black & Veatch announced the successful testing 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 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 pre-set destinations within the work site.

While Honda previously performed testing with an earlier generation of the AWV, this field test was the first to deploy multiple units working collaboratively to support construction use cases. First introduced as a concept at a 2018 trade show in Las Vegas, the Honda AWV combines the company’s 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.

As a global engineering, procurement, and construction company focused on construction optimization and technology innovation, Black & Veatch collaborated with Honda to provide a real-world testing ground at an active construction site. The company’s personnel were trained by Honda’s engineers on the operation and safety protocols. Black & Veatch then provided detailed feedback for product and business requirements that will help enhance the AWV’s capabilities and services.

For the field test, 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 Honda AWV to stop at precise points along a pre-set 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 Honda 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 pounds, and in a separate use, towed a trailer carrying over 1,600 pounds.

Kenton Williams, U.S. project lead for the Honda AWV, commented, “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.”

Honda has not announced commercialization plans for the AWV, but continues to advance the platform through field testing. Companies interested in testing the AWV to assess applicability to their work environment can contact: [email protected].

Honda anticipates further improvements to performance and design specifications as development of the AWV prototype continues to advance. (See Below.)

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Vehicle dimensions 9’ 6”L x 4’ 8”H x 4’ 11”W
Unladen vehicle weight 721kg (1590lbs)
Maximum loading capacity 399kg (880lbs)
Towing weight limit 750kg (1653lbs) (including the weight of a trailer)
Minimum turning radius 3.9m (12ft. 9.5in.)
Range at maximum loading capacity Up to 45km (27.9 miles) depending on the use case
Charge time Up to 6 hours (120V)