In the fall of 2018, the Center of Excellence for Advanced Technology Aerial Firefighting (CoE), along with wildland firefighters from the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control (DFPC) worked with Honda in testing their Autonomous Work Vehicle in wildland firefighting support scenarios.
Located at the site of the Lake Christine fire, a destructive wildfire that took place the summer of 2018 in Eagle County, Colorado- CoE, DFPC and Honda tested the work vehicles using realistic scenarios that occur during a wildfire. The team focused on utilizing the vehicle to support wildland operations with the goal of enhancing safety and effectiveness. Three missions were tested including initial attack support for dismounted firefighters, support of active fireline development, and autonomous deployment of a communications repeater to a remote site. This evaluation was performed at the Lake Christine fire site after the fire was fully contained and controlled. The initial results of the tests were promising and the CoE looks forward to working with Honda to further this mission.
Honda debuted the vehicle at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. At CES 2019, this week, Honda and the CoE are sharing some results of that testing. While further development is required before the device can be used on active wildfires, the potential of an autonomous vehicle is clear.