Volvo Trucks’ autonomous vehicle, Vera, has secured its first mission to transport goods from a logistics centre to a port terminal in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Story by Team CV

Breaking cover in September 2018, Volvo Trucks’ Vera is set to perform its first task of transporting goods from a logistics centre to a port terminal in Gothenburg, Sweden. To perform for ferry and logistics company DFDS, Vera’s assignment follows that of the Einride T-Pod’s assignment in Sweden to ferry goods over short distances in an autonomous, cabless and connected form. The first such vehicle to come out of Volvo Trucks, Vera is electric, connected and autonomous. It is engineered to transport large volumes of goods with high precision over short distances, aptly highlighting its design intent of performing repetitive assignments in logistics centres, factories and ports with the maximum speed limited to 40 kmph. After the acquisition of Vera’s first assignment, Mikael Karlsson, Vice President, Autonomous Solutions, Volvo Trucks, expressed, “Now we have an opportunity to implement Vera in an ideal setting and further develop her potential for other similar operations.”
Pointing at Volvo Trucks’ vision for the future, the CV, designed post careful planning, has its brain in the front. An outcome of the various challenges that were successfully tackled, the Vera, according to Lars Stenqvist, Chief Technology Officer, Volvo, provides an opportunity to evaluate the possibility of successfully operating driverless CVs in confined areas. Capable of turning heads where ever it goes, the Vera does away with the driver’s cab. It deploys graphics on the outside that not only make the vehicle stand out and highlight the electrification and autonomous technology that lies inside, the cabless looks simply come across as highly unusual. They are indeed, in comparison to the current-day trucks that are often called to perform the role that the Vera is set to perform. The interesting part about the Vera’s graphics is, that they trace the backbone of the CV on the top. It runs along on the top of the vehicle as well.

Incorporated with LED lights and over 30 different sensors, the Vera, done in contrasting colours such that the dark portions strengthen the technical aspects, and the lighter parts highlight its ability to be human in approach, is engineered to complement today’s transport solutions. It rides on tyres that look aesthetic with orange colour in the middle. The pattern on the rim is distinctive. The distinctive V-shaped headlights, red tail lights and long straight illuminated white line from Volvo logo symbolises the battery and wireless connections. The black section that run straight over Vera connects together the automation technology with the turntable ‘fifth wheel’. Had in a simple silver body, the CV looks quite futuristic.
Powered by the same drivetrain and battery packs present in Volvo’s electric trucks, the Vera can be latched onto standard load carriers and trailers with ease. Comprising of an electric motor, mated to a two-speed gearbox, the autonomous vehicle draws power from a 100-300 kWh lithium-ion battery. Said to deliver a driving range of 300 km, the Vera, according to Volvo, can charge its batteries in just two hours with a 150 kW fast charger. With a standard charger, it can do so in 10 hours. Known to have an ability of pulling a load of up to 32-tonnes, the Vera is about realising the need for more efficient, more cost-effective and more sustainable solutions for the transport industry. In conceptualising and building the Vera, the Volvo team explored the possibility of a new transport solution for the future.

Operating with significantly less exhaust emissions and low noise levels, the Vera is all set to form a part of the connected system where it will be monitored from a control tower. Aimed at establishing a seamless flow of goods responsive to demands for greater efficiency and flexibility, the Vera is said to have a great potential to make transportation safer, cleaner and more efficient. Set to operate on predefined public roads in an industrial area in the form of an autonomous transport solution, which could be further developed in terms of technology, operations management and infrastructure adaptations, before it is fully operational. Volvo Trucks is well-aware of the societal requirements the Vera would be expected to fulfill. Capable of complementing today’s transport solutions, and destined to address the chronic driver shortage in an environmentally friendly manner in future, the Vera will be subjected to further development, by Volvo Trucks in collaborative with selected customers in prioritised applications.

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