volvo driverless truck

Volvo unveils driverless tractor-truck controlled through the cloud

Image credit: volvo

Volvo Trucks has unveiled a driverless, electric tractor unit that can pull lorries full of goods while being controlled via the cloud.

The vehicle is designed to be used for “regular and repetitive tasks” according to Volvo, such as those with relatively short distances and large volumes of goods, and features no cab for a driver to sit in.

Transport between logistic hubs are typical examples but other use cases are also applicable, the Swedish firm said.

The vehicles are compatible with existing load carriers/trailers and the propulsion is entirely electric with zero exhaust emissions and low noise levels.

The vehicles are linked to a cloud service and a transport control centre that can locate their current position to within centimetres, monitor the operation in detail and analyse what is happening with other road users.

The transport control centre continuously monitors the progress of the transport and keeps an accurate watch of each vehicle’s position, the batteries’ charge, load content, service requirements and a number of other parameters.

Volvo said the cloud system would minimise waste in the form of buffer stocks and increase availability, while vehicles operating on the same route would cooperate to create optimal flow.

“Everything suggests that the global need for transportation will continue to significantly increase in the coming decade,” said Volvo Trucks president Claes Nilsson.

“If we are to meet this demand in a sustainable and efficient way, we must find new solutions. In order to secure a smoothly functioning goods flow system we also need to exploit existing infrastructure better than currently.

“The transport system we are developing can be an important complement to today’s solutions and can help meet many of the challenges faced by society, transport companies and transport buyers,” says.

Michael Karlsson, head of autonomous solutions at Volvo Trucks, said: “Our system can be seen as an extension of the advanced logistics solutions that many industries already apply today.

“Since we use autonomous vehicles with no exhaust emissions and low noise, their operation can take place at any time of day or night. The solution uses existing road infrastructure and load carriers, making it easier to recoup costs and allowing for integration with existing operations.”

In July Uber announced it was ceasing development of self-driving trucks in favour of focusing solely on its driverless car project. 

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