Autonomous Solutions

Frequently asked questions about autonomous technology

Founded in 2020, Volvo Autonomous Solutions (V.A.S.) is transforming the movement of goods in mines and quarries, ports, and on highways. With our autonomous transport solutions, we want to improve safety, efficiency, and reduce our impact on the planet.

An autonomous truck is a truck capable of operating without a human driver. This means features that would ordinarily be controlled by a human driver such as steering, braking and acceleration, are controlled by a virtual driver. At Volvo Autonomous Solutions, we offer a purpose-built Volvo truck or machine, equipped with redundant systems enabled for safe and reliable autonomous operations.

Autonomous vehicles don’t have the luxury of a human brain, eyes or ears, so are instead equipped with a range of sensors (like cameras, radars & lidars) to make sense of their surroundings, computers to interpret the surrounding and actuators to make the vehicle act as wanted. But unlike humans, autonomous vehicles are able to leverage different sensing principles beyond visible light to navigate in unfavorable conditions, such as at night or in fog or smoke. They can also accurately measure distances and detect obstacles and hazards ahead.

The benefits of autonomy vary between each of the industry segments we’ve chosen to work with. Within Quarries and Mining, autonomy eliminates the need for a human driver and associated components, meaning we can downsize machines, allowing for batteries to replace fossil fuels as a source of power. Autonomy also improves safety within quarries and mining by removing humans from hazardous working environments. Within Hub-to-Hub, autonomy will help deal with increasing freight demand by creating a new source of capacity, as well as ease the pressure on existing drivers by taking over some long-haul routes which will allow drivers to take short-haul jobs that keep them closer to home and improve overall job satisfaction. Within Ports and Logistics, humans will be removed from dangerous working environments, improving safety. In all 3 segments, we believe autonomy will improve efficiency, safety, and sustainability.

We believe autonomous solutions will complement today’s transport systems and help manage capacity constraints. We also believe there will always be a need for professional truck drivers and that automation can make those jobs better. Under our Hub-to-Hub model, we envision a future where autonomous trucks will tackle long-haul driving, easing some of the burden of the increasing demand for freight, while also enabling local drivers to shift into short-haul jobs that get them home more often and enhance the occupation’s quality of life, ultimately creating value for everyone in the supply chain.

Safety is fundamentally a choice of the developer of the autonomous vehicle, and it is defined as “acceptable risk of harm to persons”. At Volvo Autonomous Solutions, we prioritize safety and ensure that every step of our design, development, and verification processes contribute to the safety of our autonomous vehicles. Ensuring safety for autonomous vehicles is an ongoing process and our end goal is to create an autonomous transportation system that can operate in any complex environment with a high degree of safety. Besides, autonomous vehicles have several safety advantages, including the reduction of human errors on roads and worksites.

While autonomous vehicles have the potential to improve safety, it is difficult to make a comparison. Both have their own strengths and weaknesses. When it comes to repetitive and well-defined processes, autonomous trucks and machines have significant advantages as they are consistent and can do the same task over and over without getting tired, sick, or distracted.  But in complex and ever-changing situations, humans are arguably better because these circumstances demand experience, intuition, and operational judgment.

Legislation for autonomous vehicles varies from country to country. We always work closely with regulators to ensure we obtain all the necessary permits to test and commercially operate our autonomous transport solutions.

We have created a complete autonomous transport solution (ATS) for Hub-to-Hub, Quarries & Mining, and Ports & Logistics. This includes a virtual driver, vehicle, transport and fleet management, infrastructure, day-to-day operational management, repair and maintenance, and is available with a flexible payment solution. As our solution is tailored to our customers’ individual business needs, it may include all or some of these components depending on industry segment. Find out more here on Autonomous Transport Solution.

The speed at which we will see autonomous vehicles in real-life operation will depend on a number of factors including the pace of technological development, legislation, infrastructure, and societal acceptance. It will also depend on the type and complexity of the application. For instance, we are more likely to see autonomous vehicles sooner in confined areas or in areas where we have full control over who enters the autonomous operating zone.

Volvo Autonomous Solutions is focused on developing autonomous vehicles that adhere to the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Level 4 standard. According to SAE, Level 4 vehicles are capable of driving in specific areas under defined conditions. An example of this could be an autonomous Volvo FH truck that operates on a specific customer site under certain weather conditions. Level 4 vehicles do not require human drivers to take over control of the vehicle.

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