A Sweden based automotive company, Volvo Trucks announced on Thursday that its autonomous electric truck has just been assigned its first task.
The company has partnered with ferry and logistics giant DFDS to use its latest autonomous truck, called Vera, to transport goods around a port terminal in Gothenburg, Sweden.
In September 2018, Volvo Trucks presented its first electric, connected and autonomous solution, designed for repetitive assignments in logistics centers, factories, and ports. Vera is suited for short distances, transporting large volumes of goods with high precision.
While its previous autonomous vehicles look like regular trucks with the smarts contained inside, the Vera truck has got an impressively futuristic design that takes Volvo’s self-driving efforts to a whole new level. It’s mostly a brain, some motors, batteries and no provision for a human driver. It’s a little odd-looking, but that hasn’t stopped it from getting a job in Volvo’s home town of Gothenburg.
Vera is powered by the same drivetrain and battery packs found in Volvo’s electric trucks. Communicating with one another via a control center over the cloud, this could optimize traffic flow, keep operations running smoothly, and minimize waiting times.
While busy city roads still present several challenges for self-driving cars, the autonomous technology is now advanced enough to be deployed in the way Volvo is using it. In short, they can follow pre-defined routes in relatively quiet locations with few unexpected obstacles.
The autonomous vehicle will navigate a pre-defined route – part of which uses public roads – carrying shipping containers a relatively short distance between a DFDS logistics center and the port terminal. The aim is to create a system that offers an efficient and continuous flow of goods.
The pilot is a collaboration with logistics company DFDS and will involve short strips with speeds limited to 40 km/h (25 mph).
“Now we have the opportunity to implement Vera in an ideal setting and further develop her potential for other similar operations,” said Mikael Karlsson, vice president of autonomous solutions at Volvo Trucks, in a release.
The Volvo trucks do not have an official start date yet, but before reaching the street, they need to get a little more development.
“Autonomous transports with low noise levels and zero exhaust emissions have an important role to play in the future of logistics and will benefit both business and society. We see this collaboration as an important start and want to drive progress in this area. Vera may have a speed limit, but we don’t. Testing has already started, and we intend to implement the solution within the coming years,” adds Mikael Karlsson.