Volvo: Autonomous Electric Freight Transport System - GTEC Blog

Today, at the Volvo Group Innovation Summit in Berlin, we presented a new innovative transport system featuring a ground-breaking and eye-catching vehicle that is autonomous, electric and connected.

Transport is an enabler for prosperity, growth and welfare. Without it, the societies we live in would not function. And with a growing global population, increasing urbanization and the rapid growth of e-commerce, we will need more transport in the future.

At the same time, there are a number of global challenges linked to transport and infrastructure: climate change, congestion and problems with air quality, noise pollution and a rising number of road fatalities in many countries.

We need to put in all of our effort into identifying transport solutions that are safer, more efficient and sustainable. The transport solution of the future that we are now presenting is one step in that direction.

Together with its customers, Volvo Trucks has discussed the future needs of specific transport missions with regular and repetitive tasks, characterized by relatively short distances, large volumes of goods and high delivery precision. Typical examples include freight transportation between logistic hubs, but additional use cases can also be applicable.

The vehicles are equipped with sophisticated systems for autonomous driving.

The system we demonstrated today in Berlin is in response to these needs. The operation is handled by autonomous electric vehicles connected to a cloud service and a transport control centre. The vehicles are equipped with sophisticated systems for autonomous driving. The transport control centre continuously monitors the progress of the transport and keeps an accurate track of each vehicle’s position, the charge level of the batteries, 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 an optimal flow.

Since the vehicles have no exhaust emissions and low noise levels, they can also be operated during night-time hours and the existing infrastructure can be utilized in a much better way.

A vehicle best suited for such operations did not yet exist, so our engineers were tasked with developing such vehicle and the result is what we today. This is what an autonomous, fully electric and connected vehicle could look like. It features numerous clever technical solutions for safer, more efficient and sustainable transport that our customers will require.

Software development is today a crucial part of product development at the Volvo Group.

It features more than 30 sensors, cameras, radar, lidar and ultrasonic sensors. The vehicle will use a super high capacity computer with active cooling to manage the heat generated by the vast amount of fast calculations needed. We also develop artificial intelligence to manage all of the decisions needed for the vehicle to navigate and to enable it to interact with other road users. Software development is today a crucial part of product development at the Volvo Group.

Although this is a cab-less vehicle, in the overall economy, drivers will be needed for the majority of transport assignments for many years to come. The transport solution we are now presenting should be viewed as an important complement to today’s solutions, with the potential to help meet many of the challenges faced by society, freight companies and transport buyers.

To meet the growing need for transport and the challenges this brings, we need to identify many different new solutions. What we are presenting today is one important step, but many others will follow. I am very proud and excited to be part of this journey.
Learn more about the new innovative transport system in this film.

Original article by
Lars Stenquist, Executive Vice President Volvo Group Trucks Technology, CTO Volvo Group: