Sweden's Volvo, the world's second-biggest truck maker, offered a brand new self-driving electrical truck on Wednesday, which it mentioned ought to assist reply to the growth in e-commerce and a scarcity of freight drivers.
Volvo mentioned the truck, which doesn’t have a driver's cab, was nonetheless underneath improvement and declined to say when it will be accessible commercially. It expects the automobile to be deployed first in locations like ports and enormous logistics centres.
"We consider there will probably be a driver behind the steering wheel for the foreseeable future, however we’ll fairly quickly see self-drive business automobiles in confined areas," Lars Stenqvist, Volvo chief expertise officer, informed a convention in Berlin.
Trucking is considered by transport consultants as a pure utility for self-driving expertise due to the relative predictability of highways in contrast with busy metropolis streets.
The cabless truck – which Volvo calls Vera and might pull hundreds weighing as much as 32 tonnes – could be connected to any commonplace trailer, Michael Karlsson, head of autonomous options at Volvo Vans, mentioned after the automobile was unveiled.
"Vera means religion and we place confidence in the long run," Karlsson mentioned, including the automobile has a decrease working pace than a standard truck for security causes.
Friends on the presentation have been made to face behind a barrier because the truck drove out unaided from a tent and have been solely allowed to method when it got here to a cease.
The 1.4-million member Worldwide Brotherhood of Teamsters union is campaigning towards new U.S. guidelines to hurry the deployment of self-driving vans, warning they might imply the lack of tons of of hundreds of jobs and hit highway security.
Nonetheless, trucking corporations in lots of international locations are discovering it more durable to draw and retain drivers amid tight labour markets.
Karlsson mentioned the truck would enable locations like ports which can be at present depending on daytime working hours to run round the clock, optimising the flows of products and probably chopping down on stockpiles and growing productiveness.
He expects autonomous expertise to extend the necessity for expert drivers, whereas chopping down on the necessity for folks to carry out repetitive duties.
New applied sciences which have been disrupting the normal auto trade are additionally affecting the truck and heavy gear trade, as electrical carmaker Tesla is increasing into electrical vans, asserting final yr it deliberate to start out producing a heavy-duty mannequin by 2019.
Nonetheless, experience hailing agency Uber mentioned in July it will cease creating self-driving vans, in search of to focus its autonomous-vehicle expertise solely on automobiles.
Volvo, whose largest shareholder is China's Geely Holding, and truck trade rivals resembling Germany's Daimler and Volkswagen have been benefiting from strong demand in all main business automobiles markets.
© Thomson Reuters 2018