Workforce is expensive and as an employer you really have to take care of your people. Some jobs can be made much easier with automation, but while robots are a thing, autonomous work vehicles are barely a thing, at least not on the same level.
But there are some signs of changes. Honda, a company known for its recent advances in electrification of different industrial machines, a is going to introduce its second-generation prototype all-electric Autonomous Work Vehicle (AWV) at World of Concrete 2022, but what kind of a tool is it?
New Autonomous Work Vehicle can reduce the amount of trips people need to complete themselves. Image credit: Honda
What is the purpose of Honda Autonomous Work Vehicle?
Picture a huge construction site. A lot of workers are building walls and roofs of a huge building. While skilled people are performing more difficult tasks, everyone else has to keep moving materials, equipment and tools. This takes a lot of time, which is, of course, money. And it is terribly exhausting. If you could direct more of your workforce to construction and less to logistics operations, you would.
And that’s what Honda Autonomous Work Vehicle is. It is a mobile tool box or a small delivery vehicle, which can travel across the job site on its own or while being remote controlled. It is a hugely impressive device, and its second generation version is even more capable and promising.
Based on a Pioneer four-wheeler platform, AWV is a fully autonomous and fully electric vehicle. It moves around using its GPS, radar, lidar and stereoscopic 3D cameras. It avoids obstacles and travels in a highly efficient manner while delivering tools and materials. Of course, it is made to travel off-road and has a four wheel drive system.
Honda AWV is 2.9 meters long and 1,5 meters wide. It has a pickup-style load bed, which can be loaded with cargo weighing up to 399 kg. This prototype AWV can also tow 750 kg. Its range depends on the load, but it can be expected to be around 45 km. It is actually not a lot, having in mind how large some construction sites may be. Particularly renewable energy projects – solar panel parks may span vast distances.
On the other hand, the Japanese manufacturer is not selling its AWV yet. Some field testing is being done, but it is not a commercial product yet. And companies who would be interested in purchasing it would have to be aware of its shortcomings.
Like the fact that on a 120 v circuit Honda AWV may take up to 6 hours to charge. But at least it can do many repetitive tasks autonomously and having several of such vehicles would eliminate charging time problems. Current operators say that Honda AWV can reduce the risk of job site injury because it accomplishes a lot by itself.
Honda Autonomous Work Vehicle will be on display at World of Concrete 2022. Honda is still looking for operators for some on-field testing, which allows perfecting the vehicle. Maybe someday soon (in its third generation?) Honda AWV will become one of those tools you see on every construction site.