Honda demonstrates autonomous vehicle at Toronto airport

  • October 23, 2023
  • Steve Rogerson

Japanese car maker Honda last week demonstrated a fully-electric prototype autonomous work vehicle (AWV) at the Toronto Pearson Airport.

The aim was to engage airfield operators and airport authorities in field testing the AWV at their worksites.

The demonstration for autonomous perimeter fence inspection showed how the AWV could be used to address the problems of labour shortages, safety and security, and emissions reductions to bring more value to airfield operations.

The demonstration was conducted in collaboration with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, along with technology companies including Cisco, Genwave Technologies, Illuminex AI and Eagle Aerospace.

First introduced by Honda as a concept at CES 2018, the AWV is advancing towards commercialisation and Honda is inviting interested companies to get in touch for more information about participating in the field-testing initiative.

“Our Honda autonomous work vehicle has been verified to help improve worksite efficiencies and safety through previous field tests, so we’re ready to move to the next stage of exploring real world applications with airfield operators,” said Jason VanBuren, systems engineering manager at Honda Motor in America. “As we work towards commercialising the Honda AWV, we want to understand the needs of airfield operators and airport authorities to create new value by streamlining operations, enhancing safety performance and helping to meet airfield environmental sustainability goals.”

The AWV is designed to boost workforce productivity and support repetitive tasks that allow companies to focus their workforce on value-added activities. It is a fully electric, off-road vehicle that can be operated autonomously or manually with a remote control. Using Honda’s software on a tablet-based interface, the operator can develop routes for the AWV to move around the worksite by setting start and stop points or creating a map of the worksite.

As a mobility platform, the AWV can haul materials, attach or carry functional equipment such as sensors or a camera, and tow a maintenance tool or trailer.

For the Toronto Pearson Airport demonstration, Honda showed autonomous perimeter fence inspection that leverages the AWV’s mapping and obstacle detection features, enabling it to navigate inspection routes effortlessly and slow down or stop to avoid colliding with an obstacle.

The proof-of-concept perimeter fence inspection integrates technologies from multiple tech companies. The following technologies were applied:

  • Cisco wireless backhaul is the wireless networking backbone that provides reliable, secure and private connectivity to the airfield.
  • Genwave Technologies designs, integrates, and supports wireless networks such as Cisco’s IoT wireless backhaul platform.
  • Illuminex AI‘s operational AI system provides real-time assessments of airfield conditions and alerts of potential hazards.
  • Eagle Aerospace‘s AirOps cloud-based software enables real-time automated logging of discrepancies during the inspection process.

Honda is exploring other use cases for the AWV to enhance efficiencies of airfield and airport ground operations. For example, it could haul and transport aircraft parts and equipment, and workers could attach a mower to the AWV for vegetation control around airfields as well as a FOD (foreign object debris) tool to remove debris from airport runways and aprons. To help streamline airport ground support, the AWV could tow a baggage cart or trailer to and from aircraft.

The AWV uses a camera for real-time monitoring and sensors to operate autonomously, including GPS for location and radar and lidar for obstacle detection. Honda has field tested the vehicle at several worksites, where it transported supplies to pre-set destinations within the work site along a calculated route and proved capable of stopping within centimetres of pre-set points. It also was able to detect obstacles and other vehicles in its path to ensure a safe interaction with workers.

Honda set up in Canada in 1969 and is the parent company for both Honda and Acura vehicle brands in Canada. Since 1986, the company has produced Honda engines and almost ten million cars and light trucks at its Alliston, Ontario, manufacturing facilities, where the Honda Civic and CR-V are built. Honda has invested over $6.5bn in Canada, and each year sources over $3bn in goods and services from Canadian suppliers.

Since its inception, Honda Canada ( has sold over five million Honda and Acura passenger cars and light trucks in Canada through a dealer network of more than 280 dealerships across the country.