Image for article titled Honda's New Autonomous Work Vehicle Has 25-Percent Better Battery Life, 100-Percent Cuter Face

Image: Honda

A little more than a year ago, Honda shared how its Autonomous Work Vehicle helped Black & Veatch set up its 1,000-acre solar farm in New Mexico. With an eight-hour runtime and the ability to carry up to 880 pounds anywhere you tell it to, the AWV certainly seemed capable on paper, though we were mostly taken by its cuteness. Fast forward to this week, and Honda’s already onto the third-generation AWV, boasting enhanced ergonomics, more than two times better payload capacity and prolonged longevity on a charge. Most importantly, it’s even cuter.

You’ll be able to meet the new AWV yourself if you happen to be on the ground at CONEXPO in Las Vegas later this month. And even though Honda hasn’t been building these buddies for long, the company has already refined its initial design twice in five years. Hats off to the R&D crew for an impressive series of breakthroughs and advancements in the RAAF (robot-as-a-friend) field over such a brief time.

The new, third-generation Honda Autonomous Work Vehicle...

The new, third-generation Honda Autonomous Work Vehicle…
Image: Honda

...and the outgoing second-gen model. I know this one has bigger eyes and is also very adorable, but the other one looks like it’s always grimacing, which is more entertaining to me, and more cartoonishly fitting for a vehicle that hauls heavy loads all day.

…and the outgoing second-gen model. I know this one has bigger eyes and is also very adorable, but the other one looks like it’s always grimacing, which is more entertaining to me, and more cartoonishly fitting for a vehicle that hauls heavy loads all day.
Image: Honda

Seriously though, the new AWV is quite a lot better than the old one. Where the previous generation could only haul 880 pounds, this one can handle 2,000. Where the old one ran out of juice after eight hours on a typical workday, this new one can keep chugging along for 10. I only make it about five hours before my eyes start to twitch, so that doesn’t seem too bad.

Honda has improved the tablet-based control interface as well, and now the AWV is better equipped to navigate itself during times when GPS signal is lost, with the help of lidar sensors. It works smarter and harder!

Image for article titled Honda's New Autonomous Work Vehicle Has 25-Percent Better Battery Life, 100-Percent Cuter Face

Image: Honda

The bed has been lowered slightly, which will help us meat sacks place things on it, and the top speed has been improved to 10 mph. Whatever it was before, Honda doesn’t say. The maximum range with a full load remains at 28 miles, same as the prior model.

As far as how much the AWV will cost, the press release states that Honda’s still working on commercializing it. In other words, just like Asimo, this is a robot that you cannot buy yet. Unlike Asimo, this one actually seems to be able to do more than walk and shake hands. This is what progress looks like.



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