Honda’s latest robot is an autonomous work vehicle (AWV) designed to do all the boring and repetitive tasks at airports. It’s also about demonstrating that autonomous vehicles can serve other purposes that don’t involve clogging city streets or obstructing emergency vehicles.
The company is sending its first prototype to Toronto Pearson Airport as part of a demonstration of how AI, robotics and autonomous vehicle technology can help address many of the challenges facing airports, including labor shortages, safety and emissions. The work vehicle was first shown as a concept by Honda at CES in 2018 and is now in use.
Company sends first prototype to Toronto Pearson Airport
Some of the tasks performed by the AWV include: bypassing an airport’s perimeter fence looking for security vulnerabilities; pulling and transporting goods on the tarmac; and towing baggage carts. The vehicle can also create maps for future planning and detect obstacles. It’s designed to ride on or off-road, and it’s fully electric, meaning there are no tailpipe emissions.
Currently, the AWV is only used for inspection of perimeter fences at the Toronto Airport. But in the future, Honda says it can be easily reused for hauling goods, mowing and maintaining grounds, or removing debris. The AWV uses radar and lidar for obstacle detection as well as GPS for localization.
Honda uses equipment and technologies from a host of other companies, including wireless technology from Cisco and Genwave, operating systems from Illuminex AI, and cloud-based software from Eagle Aerospace’s AIROps.
The company said it sees the future of robotics as rooted in human interaction, which is why it focuses on a variety of use cases. At CES 2018, Honda showed off four new robot concepts, including a companion robot, an autonomous all-terrain vehicle (and the precursor to the AWV), and two “mobility” concepts for moving people and objects.