Volvo’s First Autonomous Truck Debuts This Summer

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Volvo has displayed its first “production-ready” autonomous truck with technology developed by Aurora Innovation.

Aurora is the driving tech firm founded by former executives from Google, Uber, and Tesla.

Three years after the companies confirmed they were working together, the self-driving truck is ready for rollout, and it could be on the roads as soon as this summer.

The Volvo VNL Autonomous vehicle was revealed on May 20 at the ACT Expo in Las Vegas, but the trucks will still have a human driver behind the wheel who can take control when necessary.

The VNL will be powered by Aurora Driver, a level 4 autonomous driving system that utilizes high-res cameras, imaging radars, a LiDAR sensor with a range of up to 400 meters, and other sensors.

“This truck is the first of our standardized global autonomous technology platform, which will enable us to introduce additional models in the future, bringing autonomy to all Volvo Group truck brands and other geographies and use cases,” stated Nils Jaeger, president of Volvo Autonomous Solutions.

Aurora’s technology has been trained on billions of virtual driving miles and 1.5 million commercial miles on public roads. The truck has “redundant steering, braking, communication, power management, energy storage, and vehicle motion management systems as part of further safety precautions.”

Shahrukh Kazmi, chief product officer at Volvo Autonomous Solutions, explained that their platform engineering approach prioritizes safety by incorporating high-assurance redundancy systems designed to mitigate potential emergencies.

He also mentioned that the Volvo VNL Autonomous was built from the ground up, integrating these redundancy systems to ensure that every safety-critical component is intentionally duplicated, thereby significantly enhancing both safety and reliability.

Aurora intends to commence pilot programs with customers who will be using the Volvo VNL Autonomous truck. The Swedish multinational firm already has an initial test fleet under production at its New River Valley assembly site in Virginia.

Aurora is striving to commercialize self-driving trucks by the end of this year. As part of a plan to carry freight between Dallas and Houston using up to 20 self-driving Class 8 trucks and around 100 by 2025, this test will be significant as no human drivers will be in control. However, the company has not confirmed if Volvo trucks (or those of Paccar, its other partner) will be involved in the driverless fleet.