Honda's Autonomous Work Vehicles Are Coming To Make Humans Redundant

Illustration for article titled Honda's Autonomous Work Vehicles Are Coming To Make Humans Redundant
Image: Honda

Honda has a new concept set to debut at CES in Las Vegas next month, an all-terrain vehicle fitted with autonomous bits meant to make off-road work easier, safer, and more efficient, so says the press release. The concept, called “Honda Autonomous Work Vehicle”, starts off innocently enough.

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The snow throwing autonomous vehicle above is a nice concept, as nobody wants to go out in the cold to shovel the driveway. It’s a convenience tool for the wealthy, then. Like a Roomba or that VR fence lawn mower thing.

Illustration for article titled Honda's Autonomous Work Vehicles Are Coming To Make Humans Redundant

Honda then pulls at heartstrings with the First Aid delivery vehicle. By using something like this, we can put fewer humans in harms way, and perhaps more efficiently provide care to those who need it. Disaster recovery might be a great way for this vehicle to make its case.

Illustration for article titled Honda's Autonomous Work Vehicles Are Coming To Make Humans Redundant

Another area for the AWV to make its mark is search and rescue. With the right technology equipment fitted, this vehicle might even be able to help find people, whether in an avalanche as shown, or perhaps a building collapsed to earthquake. There would still need to be a team of search and rescue folks to provide aid, but this could be a more efficient manner of searching.

Here’s a short video in which firefighters make a case for the robot helper.

Then things start to get strange.

Illustration for article titled Honda's Autonomous Work Vehicles Are Coming To Make Humans Redundant
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While miners have been using carts for decades to transport equipment and whatever they dig for down in mines, this autonomous ATV might be capable of replacing the cart. Is it strictly necessary? Will it actually make anyone’s job easier? What is the purpose of this?

Illustration for article titled Honda's Autonomous Work Vehicles Are Coming To Make Humans Redundant
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Construction is one of the last places I expected to see autonomous vehicles, but here we go. Normally these concrete blocks and piping would need to be loaded into the bed of a pickup and carried across the construction site. I’m not entirely sure whether this would actually make anything easier, or if it would just necessitate humans to walk across the site instead of riding in the cab of the truck.

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And this final one is actually enough to make me mad. Honda shows off their silly little robot quad taking the place of a seasonal worker picking apples. Whether you roll your eyes at an uncle that shouts about how “they” are “taking our jobs”, or you ARE the uncle shouting about it, you should have reason to be mad about a robot stepping in for a paid worker, right?

This is far more tech bro BS than I would normally expect to see from Honda. But, I guess that’s what makes headlines at CES. Thanks Honda, I hate it.

Jalopnik contributor with a love for everything sketchy and eclectic.

DISCUSSION

hammerheadfistpunch
HammerheadFistpunch

So there are some examples that it makes sense. crop spraying, its not really smart to expose a worker to the amount of spray they would be required to endure doing the same job, for example, but some of these examples are just stupid

Here comes the search and rescue bot...to the hard packed easily traversed avalanche area and when we get there we’ll have...a box of things? Here you go avalanche victims, help yourselves!

If it’s too dangerous for a human, then its likely not accessible by wheeled vehicle. If it is accessible by wheeled vehicle then a human should be there doing things the machine can’t. if a wheeled vehicle AND a human need to be there...why is the human walking?

The fire one is a perfect example.

We need something that can carry the gear our firefighters need into rugged terrain so they can arrive fresh.” um okay

now a few of them don’t even have to walk. And don’t say “well it doesn’t put a firefighter at risk”. its following the firefighters in the video...its the same human risk. what’s the benefit? I guess you can send a machine into dangerous terrain to extract a person, but i think that its speed, capability and electronic sensitivity would be a problem in an environment a human would be able to go.

Maybe I’m wrong, but this looks like a solution looking for a problem.