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Honda Unveils an Autonomous ATV for Industrial and Agricultural Use

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【Summary】Operators can manually control the self-driving pod using a tablet or smartwatch. The four-wheel drive concept unit does not make room for human passengers (no seats) and functions as a robotic worker.

Michael Cheng    Jan 17, 2018 9:00 AM PT
Honda Unveils an Autonomous ATV for Industrial and Agricultural Use

Honda showcased several autonomous products at the Consumer Electronics Show 2018 in Las Vegas earlier this month. During the annual event, the automaker took the opportunity to introduce the 3E series (stands for "Empower, Experience, Empathy") – a set of robotic vehicles designed to enhance mobility for everyday consumers.

The electrified units range from a friendly companion bot (3E-A18) for families to a driverless ATV for extreme work sites and industrial facilities (3E-D18). The latter product is equipped with airless tires for traveling over rocky and uneven terrain.

All of these units are powered by Honda's Mobile Power Pack, which allows individuals to charge the battery on the vehicle or trade out the power cell at a centralized hub (in exchange for a fully charged battery).

3E-D18

The autonomous ATV leverages GPS and numerous robust sensors around the body for navigation (no handlebars and pedals). Operators can manually control the self-driving pod using a tablet or smartwatch. The four-wheel drive concept unit does not make room for human passengers (no seats) and functions as a robotic worker.

"The 3E-D18 robotic device has the potential to minimize human exposure to dangerous environments and can perform time-consuming chores or mundane tasks," cited the automaker.

The 3E-D18 also features mainstream applications for outdoor enthusiasts. Campers and hikers can use the driverless ATV to bring equipment to the site with minimal effort. Because the unit can be summoned wirelessly, individuals do not have to worry about losing sight of the pod during operation.

Farming and Construction

Depending on its application, the 3E-D18 can be equipped with sensors, attachments and devices. When used in mining locations, operators have the option to attach a wide container for hauling large objects. In nuclear facilities, inspectors may choose to deploy the autonomous ATV with a camera to oversee hazardous parts of the building.

Large-scale agriculture is the sector that will directly benefit from the driverless pod. An extendable irrigation system can be secured on the back of the unit to provide water for crops. A similar contraption may be utilized during fertilization, for deploying supplements to plants.

"Designed by Honda R&D Americas, 3E-D18 is outfitted with an electric-powered drivetrain and can accommodate a multitude of attachments, bringing efficiencies and increasing safety for public, commercial, and consumer enterprises, including search and rescue, fire fighting, construction, and agriculture," said Honda.

Honda has not set a production date for the autonomous ATV. So far, the company is focused on expanding its line of compatible attachments. A functional prototype is available, which will be used to facilitate proof-of-concept testing. Furthermore, the car manufacturer voiced out the possibility of creating partnerships to streamline this aspect of development.

As for other robotic concepts in the 3E series, the 3E-B18 is a cutting-edge electric wheelchair with autonomous capabilities. The electrified roller assists senior citizens and individuals with physical disabilities in getting around public locations.

Lastly, the 3E-C18 is an electrified transport cargo for moving around heavy objects. The unit is powered by a smart platform that passively ‘learns' about the preferences of the owner. 

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