Volvo answers questions about its new autonomous truck

Volvo answers questions about its new autonomous truck

Volvo gives additional details on its newly announced autonomous truck, and the technology behind it.

On May 20 at ACT Expo, Volvo unveiled its new autonomous truck, built on the new VNL. In a post-press conference briefing session, the company went into the details on the autonomous truck. Here are some of the highlights.

“This is just the first truck of a standardized technology plan that then enable us to bring autonomy to the other Volvo Group brands, but also other geographies and to other applications,” said Nils Jaeger, president of Volvo Autonomous Solutions.

Six steps to safety

Shahrukh Kazmi, chief product officer at Volvo Autonomous Solutions, walked us through details of the truck, starting with its safety systems. Much of the design revolved around redundancy and offering backups, in case something were to happen to the autonomous driving system. There are six redundant systems built in, as he shared:

“Two sets of braking systems ensure that we have braking in the event of a failure, which is powered by two separate power sources. If the primary steering system on the driver’s side fails, the secondary storage system on the side kicks in to enable a safe maneuver. Again, this system is also enabled by human power. Then number three, redundant communication. To ensure that we react to all the driving conditions and environment, we have two communication systems in place to enable redundancy.

“Number four, vehicle motion control. Vehicle motion control is the system which manages the motion of the vehicle itself. We have embedded redundancy in that system as well. And number five: In order to ensure that we have braking and steering and we don’t actually have a complete loss of function, we have two computer systems in place that can handle it. And again, we have dual power supplies to those systems. And then moving to the last one, number six, power, energy and power storage systems. We have strategically placed two storage systems, one on the driver’s side and one at the back of the truck under the deck plate to ensure that we can avoid a complete loss of function in case of an issue.”

The Aurora driver

Aurora worked with Volvo on the autonomous driving of the truck, and Sterling Anderson, co-founder of Aurora and chief product officer, was on hand to provide more details.

“This truck marks the culmination of six years between our teams six long grueling years developing what will ultimately be our goal of a truly superhuman asset. A truck that goes beyond what a human could ever do,” he said.

“We went from kind of the unibrow design that you may have seen before where it’s kind of bolted on, to an integrated system that’s 40% more aerodynamic, he said. “And it looks a hell of a lot better. On the truck itself, because the self-driving system doesn’t stop for breaks, it doesn’t stop for snacks, it doesn’t stop for sleep, it can drive at more efficient speeds and still get loads there faster.”

Plans for the future

Now that the truck has been unveiled, Volvo detailed the plans for testing it on the road.

“This is already set up as we speak for the first lanes that we aim to go autonomously in Texas,” said Sasko Cuklev, head of on-road solutions for Volvo Autonomous Solutions. “I also would like us to view autonomy or autonomous transports as a new way of transporting freight. It’ll require a different transportation ecosystem. It is a total solution that has to function in the context where it is implemented.”

Catch up with all the news from ACT Expo here.

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