Auto-maker Volvo might have a reputation as the ‘safe’ choice but its forays into autonomous vehicles and unusual business models mean that the company is a little more innovative than most. That innovation extends to long-haul shipping, thanks to a new autonomous prototype of its VNL semi-truck.
Before you go getting all excited, the new prototype isn’t fully autonomous just yet. The company’s VNL prototype integrates Aurora Driver tech, along with a collection of safety features also seen in its non-self-driving trucks.
Volvo’s cargo space?
Volvo doesn’t go into much detail about the autonomous tech its prototype features but taking a look at Aurora’s Driver tech reveals that it is (perhaps obviously) a whole lot of sensors crammed into the vehicle. Lidar, long-range radar and imaging cameras worth together with a main hub to give the vehicle the ability to ‘see’ — an essential component in creating autonomous trucks.
The Swedish company is very keen on that, particularly since they intend to provide them as part of a “…comprehensive and seamless Transport as a Service (TaaS) solution”. But at the moment it seems to be more of a support system, ahead of transitioning a truck to Level 4 autonomy — which is the nice one, where there’s still a driver in the cabin.
Sasko Cuklev, head of on-road solutions for Volvo Autonomous Solutions, said “We believe that autonomous solutions will complement the transport system of today and will be implemented where there is a purpose and where it makes sense.”
Just when one of these will turn up on the road isn’t known, but since this project is confined to North America, it’ll likely be quite some time before they turn up on SA roads. Hopefully, we’ve painted some clearer lines by then.