Innovation

Autonomous trucking heats up as Volvo unveils electric truck with no cab

The cabless truck can attach to any standard trailer, but isn't commercially available.

Autonomous trucking is moving closer to a reality as Volvo unveiled Vera, a self-driving, electric truck with no cab. The truck was revealed Wednesday, according to a Reuters report, as a possible solution to offset the low numbers of new truck drivers.

Being that the truck has no cab, there's no possibility of a human driver being on board to take over, the report noted. This means that Volvo is targeting Level 4 or Level 5 autonomous driving, according to the NHTSA's standards.

Vera is just a concept for now and isn't available commercially, Reuters reported. When it does come to market, it will likely hit big cities and port areas first.

SEE: IT leader's guide to the future of autonomous vehicles (Tech Pro Research)

"We believe there will be a driver behind the steering wheel for the foreseeable future, but we will pretty soon see self-drive commercial vehicles in confined areas," Volvo CTO Lars Stenqvist said at a conference in Berlin.

After it was revealed, Michael Karlsson, head of autonomous solutions at Volvo Trucks said that it can attach to any standard trailer and pull up to 32 tonnes, Reuters noted. Karlsson also noted that Vera has a lower operating speed than normal freight trucks to improve its safety.

"Vera means faith, and we have faith in the future," Karlsson said.

Autonomous vehicle technology has major implications for the trucking industry, as it opens up potential transport hours and lowers costs for manufacturers. The Teamsters Union has pushed back strongly against self-driving trucks, but many countries including America face massive shortages of truck drivers at the same time.

Tesla is another automaker that has unveiled self-driving electric trucks, while Uber has been growing its Uber Freight division. Companies including Walmart, J.B. Hunt, Meijer, and Loblaws pre-ordered the Tesla trucks, while self-driving trucks are being tested on UK roads, as well.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • Volvo unveiled Vera, an electric self-driving semi truck with no cab, joining firms like Tesla that are already working on autonomous trucks.
  • The Teamsters Union is pushing back against self-driving trucks, but the US is facing a massive shortage of new truck drivers at the same time.

Also see

vera.jpg
Image: Volvo

About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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