Volvo reveals autonomous truck for North America

By Mike Brezonick29 September 2021

Volvo Autonomous Solutions VNL truck prototype Volvo Autonomous Solutions has unveiled a prototype autonomous Class 8 VNL truck that will be tested in North America.

Volvo Autonomous Solutions and Aurora, the Mountain View, Calif.-headquartered autonomous system specialist, have reached the next milestone in their partnership to jointly develop on-highway autonomous trucks in the U.S. A prototype of Volvo Trucks’ flagship, long-haul VNL truck, integrated with the Aurora Driver platform, which brings together software, hardware and data services technologies, has been revealed, representing another step toward launching fully autonomous Class 8 trucks commercially in North America.

Building on its history of safety and technology expertise, Volvo Autonomous Solutions said it is paving the way towards offering Volvo autonomous trucks to customers, as well as delivering comprehensive and seamless Transport as a Service (TaaS) solutions for autonomous commercial trucks, tailored to specific customer needs.

“Volvo Autonomous Solutions is proud to take our first, major steps toward the autonomous Volvo VNL in North America,” said Nils Jaeger, president of Volvo Autonomous Solutions. “Our long-standing customer base and their priorities are at the forefront of our path forward in shaping autonomous trucking. We strongly believe in a future in which safe, sustainable, efficient transport solutions are essential for any society to prosper, and autonomous commercial trucking is an important piece of that transformation.”

While research and development are supported by global team efforts, on-highway autonomous truck applications are also being designed and engineered in the U.S., in preparation for future production at Volvo Trucks’ New River Valley Assembly Operations in Dublin, Va.

Aurora Driver platform The autonomous Volvo VNL truck prototype is equipped with the Aurora Driver platform, which brings together software, hardware and data services technologies.

The transformation to autonomy is rooted in Volvo Group’s focus on safety and it builds on safety technologies already in place on the Volvo VNL, including Volvo Dynamic Steering (VDS) and automated transmission (I-Shift). These existing technologies, along with a number of other advanced vehicle features, create a redundant safety-based solution in the autonomous truck’s core systems to ensure safe operations are in place, the company said. The foundation of Volvo Trucks’ safety systems combined with the Aurora Driver technology ensures the highest safety outcome at every step of the development process, Volvo said.

“We are proud that our Volvo VNL model will serve as the foundation for the development of North American autonomous trucks to offer our customers the next generation of safe, efficient and sustainable transport solutions,” said Peter Voorhoeve, president of Volvo Trucks North America.

Contributing to a more sustainable society is another focus of Volvo Autonomous Solutions’ strategy. Bringing autonomous Volvo on-highway trucks to market will complement today’s transport system to help meet the increasing demand for moving goods while minimizing the environmental impact.

“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,” said Sasko Cuklev, head of on-road solutions for Volvo Autonomous Solutions. “It is important for us to be part of this transformation, and together with our customers and partners, to be a leader in building up the new ecosystem.”

As Volvo Autonomous Solutions and Aurora continue to make progress with the Volvo VNL prototype, the partners said they are also working toward the next step in implementing their hub-to-hub transport vision in North America. This includes identifying specific regions and routes to serve as the initial hubs for on-road highway testing. In addition, Volvo Autonomous Solutions is working closely with customers to understand their current and future needs, priorities and demands, in preparation for piloting the autonomous Volvo VNL in on-road, hub-to-hub transport scenarios, as well as the eventual adoption of autonomous technology commercially.

While the transformation to an autonomous trucking future will not happen overnight, Volvo Autonomous Solutions said it will continue to further increase the speed of development to support customers’ changing needs across many segments and markets – and ultimately bring the benefits of autonomous transport solutions to the public with safer, more efficient and more sustainable commercial transport of goods across the U.S.

To see a video on the prototype vehicle, click here.

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