Innovation

Honda autonomous off-road robot could handle dangerous jobs in the field

The fully-electric robot could be a good fit for certain types of field work, or search and rescue operations.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Honda unveiled a new autonomous, off-road robot that could be used for dangerous jobs in the field, or for search and rescue missions.
  • The concept robot is fully-electric, and has tires that don't use air and can't be punctured, adding to its rugged capabilities.

A new autonomous off-road robot from Honda could be used to help assist search and rescue missions, or to perform dangerous jobs in the field for certain industries. The 3E-D18 robot debuted alongside three others at the 2018 CES in Las Vegas.

Drone technology has been used recently to assist in these capacities, with the FAA announcing regulations to aid such use cases in late 2016. However, having a ground-based robot like the one from Honda could help get hurt workers out of a dangerous situation, or assist with the transport of goods or materials.

The 3E-D18 looks like a white ATV with no handlebars. It's a fully-electric vehicle, and it features tires that don't require air and can't be easily punctured. Similar tires, which feature a sort of cushioning system, have been in the works at major manufacturers for years.

SEE: Hiring kit: Robotics engineer (Tech Pro Research)

Instead of a seat on top, the vehicle features a rail system for attachments, as reported by our sister cite CNET. Attachments for the rail system could make the 3E-D18 customizable for use in construction or even firefighting, CNET reported.

To navigate its environment, the robot uses a combination of sensors, artificial intelligence (AI), and GPS technology, CNET noted. It also features four-wheel-drive, which can help the robot make it to hard-to-reach areas.

For now, the 3E-D18 is just a concept vehicle, and there are no plans to put it into production yet. However, if produced, it could prove a valuable robot ally for certain activities.

The 3E-D18 was one of four robots debuted by the Japanese automaker at CES. All of the model names begin with 3E, which a Honda press release said stands for "Empower, Experience and Empathy."

Other models include the 3E-B18, which can be used as a type of wheelchair or scooter to improve mobility; the 3E-A18, which is an empathy-based robot that could guide visitors at a given location or act as a calming agent; and the 3E-C18, which looks like a rolling cooler and can be used to transport items, the release noted.

These robots aim to demonstrate "Honda's vision of a society where robotics and AI can assist people in many situations, such as disaster recovery, recreation and learning from human interaction to become more helpful and empathetic," according to the release.

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Image: Honda

About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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