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Volvo Trucks presents Vera autonomous electric vehicle for future transport solutions

Volvo Trucks unveiled Vera: an autonomous, electric vehicle that can operate with significantly less exhaust emissions and low noise levels. Vera is controlled and monitored via a cloud-based service, and has the potential to make transportation safer, cleaner and more efficient. The driveline and battery pack are of the same type that are used in Volvo Trucks’ electric trucks.

Volvo’s long-term goal is to offer companies that need continuous transport services between fixed hubs a complement to today’s offerings.


Growing world population and increasing urbanization are leading to significant challenges to solve environmental issues such as congestion, pollution and noise. Rising consumption, the fast growth of e-commerce and the wide-spread shortage of drivers put higher demands on efficient transport solutions.

The full potential of the transport industry is yet to be seen. Everything suggests that the global need for transportation will continue to significantly increase in the coming decade. 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.

—Claes Nilsson, President Volvo Trucks

Volvo Trucks’ Vera future transport solution is intended to be used for regular and repetitive tasks characterized by relatively short distances, large volumes of goods and high delivery precision. Transports between logistic hubs are typical examples, but additional use cases could also be applicable.


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 utilises existing road infrastructure and load carriers, making it easier to recoup costs and allowing for integration with existing operations.

—Mikael Karlsson, Vice President Autonomous Solutions

The operation is handled by autonomous electric vehicles linked to a cloud service and a transport control center. The vehicles are equipped with systems for autonomous driving. They are designed to locate their current position to within centimeters, monitor in detail and analyze what is happening with other road users, and then respond with high accuracy.

The transport control center 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.

As with an industrial production process, speed and progress are tailored to avoid unnecessary waiting and to increase delivery precision. In this way it will be possible to minimise waste in the form of buffer stocks, and increase availability. Vehicles that operate on the same route cooperate to create optimal flow.

Volvo Trucks said that in the near future, its transport solution will be further developed together with selected customers in prioritized applications.



This silent, any-hour-of-the-day operation looks big.  Urban road systems are highly congested during rush hours and heavily used most of the day, but can be almost empty at night.  Getting a lot of the freight traffic off the roads during peak hours, especially large trucks which accelerate very slowly in stop-and-go traffic, will do a lot to relieve congestion.

The one downside I can see is that unattended nocturnal freight deliveries are tempting targets for thieves.  There will be places where this technology cannot be used because anything outdoors must be kept under guard.


Interesting to see no cab and no driver.
They could run at night, that is when stores restock anyway.


Driverless vehicles are/will evolve at a fast rate in the next decade. Applications will multiply.

Safety/security on board systems will also have to evolve to keep thieves away?


@Engineer-Poet I'd love to see how these systems interact with crosswinds, low bridges, trees not pruned, changing road weight limits, unbalanced load, or improperly secured load. These trucks even if fully autonomous will be required stopping into weigh and / or inspections stations that will mandate the vehicle be parked till fixed on site or closest station. Whether it be cracked rim, wobbling (curb checked) trailer wheels, wheel chains for snow, or lights / lenses. The last two are normally capable to be remedied or jerry rigged on site.

The other aspect I'd love to know is what the AI protocol is for deer or other animals on the road. IMO, it's wiser to hit the deer or soft avoidance within reason vs jack knifing, rollover, or hitting a tree. As object that can move when hit will produce less damage to the truck while an immobile tree can easily completely disable the vehicle.

I'd love to see how these systems interact with crosswinds
Probably better than humans, who can't follow accelerometer and gyro readings from several points on the trailer in real time.
low bridges

From this site:  Tom Tom reaches 1.5 billion map updates per month.  The autonomous truck won't even plot a route without verifying all bridge heights on it.

trees not pruned
Trees change faster than most bridges, but Tom Tom has probably got that.  Trucks will give constant feedback on height of near-obstacles on the route.
changing road weight limits
unbalanced load

Reads differential pressure from air springs and flags a problem.  Actually, the trailer will probably do this before it's closed up, not even allowing the tractor to take it on the road until the problem is corrected.

improperly secured load.

When that differential air pressure problem appears en route along with anomalous accelerometer readings indicating a load shift, the vehicle goes into "limp home" mode to avoid tipping over.

A human driver can sort of learn such things by the seat of the pants.  A computer-controlled system can FEEL it all in real time from stem to stern and handle things as necessary, such as short steering corrections to offset a load shift.  And the computer can do it in the wee hours of the morning when the humans prefer to sleep and the roads are empty.  It's a natural.

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