The adorable vehicle in this video and photo gallery is the latest generation of the Honda Autonomous Work Vehicle (AWV) prototype. The company tested this little, self-driving machine for a month at a construction site where Black & Veatch was building a 120-megawatt solar array on a 1,000-acre plot of land in New Mexico.
The AWV is based on a Honda Pioneer UTV chassis. The little vehicle can carry a load of up to 880 pounds (721 kilograms) and can tow as much as 1,653 pounds (750 kilograms). When fully loaded, the rig has a maximum range of 27.9 miles (45 kilometers). Charging takes 6 hours from a 120-volt outlet.
The Honda AWV can operate either as a remote-controlled vehicle or navigate autonomously. In self-driving mode, an operator with a tablet tells the machine where to go on a map, and the vehicle figures out how to get there. For seeing the world, there is a forward-mounted camera, 3D cameras, a GPS tracker, lidar, and radar.
The construction company Black & Veatch used the AWV to carry gear around the site building the solar array. The vehicles freed up personnel who would have usually driven these loads around so that these folks were able to do other jobs.
This wasn’t the first real-world test for the AWV, but it was the first time Honda evaluated several of them at once. The company showed the initial prototype for the vehicle at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show.
Honda says that it’s not ready to put the AWV into commercial production yet, but the company is continuing to develop the product. It’s looking for more partners like Black & Veatch that are interested in testing the machine. There’s a plan to add attachments and tools to the vehicle to make the machine even more helpful to human workers.