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Volvo Trucks develops new transport solution featuring automated electric trucks

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Volvo Trucks announced the development of a new transport solution consisting of automated electric commercial vehicles that can contribute to more efficient, safer and cleaner transportation.

According to Volvo Trucks, this solution is aimed at adding capacity and complementing today’s offerings to support fleets and drivers by relieving driver shortages and constraints on freight capacity. Volvo added that this future transport solution is intended to be used for regular and repetitive tasks characterized by relatively short distances, large volumes of goods and high delivery precision. Transports between logistic hubs are typical examples, but additional use cases can also be applicable.

Volvo says that the solution was developed in part in response to growing world population and increasing urbanization, which are leading to environmental issues such as congestion, pollution and noise. Rising consumption, the fast growth of e-commerce and the wide-spread shortage of drivers put higher demands on efficient transport solutions.

“Everything suggests that the global need for transportation will continue to significantly increase in the coming decade,” said Claes Nilsson, president of Volvo Trucks. “If we are to meet this demand in a sustainable and efficient way, we must find new solutions. In order to secure a smoothly functioning goods flow system, we also need to exploit existing infrastructure better. 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.”

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According to Volvo, the way it works is that the operation is handled by autonomous electric vehicles linked to a cloud service and a transport control centre. The vehicles are equipped with sophisticated systems for autonomous driving. They are designed to locate their current position to within centimeters, monitor in detail and analyze what is happening with other road users and then respond.

The transport control center continuously monitors the progress of the transport and keeps an accurate watch of each vehicle’s position, the batteries’ charge, load content, service requirements and a number of other parameters. As with an industrial production process, speed and progress are tailored to avoid unnecessary waiting and to increase delivery precision. In this way it will be possible to minimize waste in the form of buffer stocks, and increase availability. Vehicles that operate on the same route cooperate to create optimal flow. More on the system can be seen in the video above.

“Our system can be seen as an extension of the advanced logistics solutions that many industries already apply today,” said Mikael Karlsson, Volvo Trucks’ vice president of autonomous solutions. “Since we use autonomous vehicles with no exhaust emissions and low noise, their operation can take place at any time of day or night. The solution utilizes existing road infrastructure and load carriers, making it easier to recoup costs and allowing for integration with existing operations.”

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Volvo says that the solution will be further developed in the near future, in conjunction with selected customers in prioritized applications.

Read more about Volvo’s electric truck efforts in our story here.

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