We use the word ‘trucking’ as an umbrella term for all sorts of delivery or transports hauls via truck but there are different titles for different types of trucking. One of them is drayage, which denotes a short-term haul trucking route like the trips from a ship to a rail hub or a warehouse in the vicinity.
Drayages are repetitive and usually don’t take very long at all. The routes are pre-determined, which is perfect for the level autonomous vehicles currently are at this point in time.
Volvo has been working on an autonomous platform that is specifically designed for drayage, which the company dubbed Vera. And it doesn’t look like any other autonomous vehicle you have ever seen.
It doesn’t feature a driver cab, to begin with – driver and passenger seats are non-existent. Instead, the vehicle is completely flat and the only semblance it has with your typical car is because of the four wheels set on each side and the front hood.
It looks quite sleek and, if it would have featured a cabin for the driver and the passengers, it would have most likely resembled a low-slung sports car.
Vera is not fit to go out and speed across highways so Volvo will deploy it alongside ferry and logistics firm DFDS.
The platform will navigate on a pre-determined route and will carry shipping containers a short distance between the port terminal and a nearby DFDS logistics center as the foundation of a system that can offer the company a continuous flow of goods, at speeds of maximum 40km/h.
“We want to be at the forefront of connected, autonomous transportation. This collaboration will help us develop an efficient, flexible and sustainable long-term solution for receiving autonomous vehicles arriving at our gates, benefitting our customers, the environment and our business” DFDS CEO Torben Carlsen said in a press release.
Volvo plans to gain more experience with autonomous vehicles thanks to Vera and hopes that, in the near future, the vehicle will be used in similar applications that will complement other transports solutions.
“Autonomous transports with low noise levels and zero exhaust emissions have an important role to play in the future of logistics, and will benefit both business and society.” Mikael Karlsson, Vice President Autonomous Solutions at Volvo Trucks, said about the project. “We see this collaboration as an important start and want to drive progress in this area. Vera may have a speed limit, but we don’t. Testing has already started and we intend to implement the solution within the coming years.”
For now, Vera doesn’t have an official start date for the new job but Volvo will probably put the vehicle to work quite soon.