Volvo unveils self-driving truck

Sweden’s Volvo Group carried out the first public demonstration of its autonomous truck to an audience at the Volvo Group Innovation Summit in Beijing last week.

The vehicle is designed to move between hubs, so that it could collect containers at a port and take it to a factory.

This truck’s technology is based on GPS and light detection and ranging (LiDAR) technology, which uses a laser to survey its environment and navigate around obstacles. The truck also has a system that optimises its route and fuel consumption.

Martin Lundstedt, Volvo Group’s chief executive, commented: "Although this technology may be years away from production, it will undoubtedly influence our future offering and has the potential to develop smart societies for the future. No matter what type of solution we develop, safety is always our primary concern and this applies to all our self-driving projects."

However, Volvo does not claim that the truck is able to negotiate the streets of a city. It says that the vehicle is aimed at simplified environments such as container terminals and dedicated highway lanes.

Meanwhile, deliveries by autonomous trucks have already been made in the US. In October last year a truck with no human at the wheel drove 120 miles down Interstate 25 in Colorado to deliver 51,744 cans of Budweiser, a feat that led to unease about the future of the 1.7 million Americans who drive trucks for a living.  

And last month, Deutsche Post announced plans to launch a fleet of self-driving electric vans to move mail around. Its vans, which are equipped with six cameras, two LiDAR sensors and a radar array, were unveiled at the Nvidia GTC conference in Munich in October.

Image: Volvo’s hub-to-hub truck (Volvo)

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