Honda has unveiled a prototype Autonomous Work Mower (AWM), the company's first battery-powered electric zero-turn riding (ZTR) mower.
Created to help improve efficiency of lawn care and landscape maintenance companies while offering an eco-conscious solution with zero-emissions, the AWM will make its official debut at the upcoming Equip Exposition (17-20 October) at the Kentucky Exposition Centre in Louisville, Kentucky.
The mower features a "Teaching" mode for manual operation and "Playback" mode for autonomous operation. More specifically, the Honda AWM learns the mowing routes and patterns set by the operator in manual mode using Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) for accurate location recognition.
It then reproduces these routes and patterns in autonomous operation after the operator downloads via a tablet or smartphone the specified mowing route map that was previously stored in manual mode. This gives the operator time to maintain other areas of the property, thus improving efficiency.
Of course, this means the AWM is not a self-learning autonomous vehicle as it needs to be "trained" before being let loose on a lawn.
The vehicle's autonomous capability is enabled by four radar and four LiDAR sensors for obstacle detection, with the omnidirectional sensing system also able to sense terrain variations.
Gallery: Honda Autonomous Work Mower Prototype
The Honda AWM features a unique differential two-motor traction control system that enables it to maintain straight tracking on hills and rough terrains.
The mower also features vehicle speed-linked blade motor control, automatically reducing blade rotation at low speeds and low loads to reduce power consumption. At high loads, the AWM automatically reduces its speed to prevent grass clogging and uncut grass.
Earlier this year, Honda successfully field tested a proof of concept version of the AWM with a top US commercial landscape company. To develop the AWM further, Honda will begin a pilot programme in 2024 and is seeking companies to participate in assessing the AWM's applicability to their work environments.
"Our development of the prototype zero-turn Honda Autonomous Work Mower comes at a time when technology is shaping the future of the landscaping industry," said Hirokazu Hara, vice president of New Business Development, American Honda Motor Co.
"To address labour shortages and help support companies' sustainability goals, the Honda AWM aims to provide zero-emission alternatives to gasoline-powered mowers that can reduce operating costs and help accelerate the electrification of landscape maintenance equipment."
The AWM will also support Honda's global goal of achieving carbon neutrality – net zero emissions – for all products and corporate activities by 2050.