To start, Volvo’s Vera will ferry goods from a logistics center to a port in Gothenburg, Sweden. But more Veras will eventually mean fewer trucking jobs.
Volvo is ready to put its first autonomous, fully electric truck to the test. With the assistance of shipping company DFDS, the vehicle, known as Vera, will ferry goods from a logistics center to a port in Gothenburg, Sweden.
The car maker has been experimenting with fuel-efficient, driverless vehicles for the last several years, and first teased Vera in September. [Editor’s note: The previous version of this story didn’t differentiate between Volvo Cars and Volvo Trucks, which are two separate entities. Both companies have previously experimented with energy efficiency and autonomous vehicles.] It’s optimal for short-range heavy-load jobs. The truck follows a predetermined route and is connected to a control center and cloud network. Vera pinpoints its position down to the centimeter, enabling it to detect sudden and minute changes in its environment—a good thing since part of Vera’s route takes it on public roads.
“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 of Volvo Trucks, said in a statement.
Volvo eventually wants to expand and include multiple autonomous trucks in its operation. It made Vera compatible with most existing trailers and load carriers to take advantage of existing infrastructure. A fleet of Veras would ideally increase predictability and minimize unnecessary downtime, Volvo says.
More Veras would also mean fewer truckers, which Volvo positions as positive, citing the widespread belief that the industry is dying. But according to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that’s a misconception, especially for short-distance drivers, who would be most affected by Volvo’s new technology.
Fortunately for currently employed drivers, it’ll likely be a while before Vera becomes ubiquitous. Volvo’s statement concludes with a vague promise to extend the vehicle’s availability and functionality in “the near future.”