Volvo unveils their first self-driving truck

Three years after joining forces, Volvo and Aurora have taken a significant step towards revolutionizing the trucking industry with the unveiling of their first production autonomous truck, the Volvo VNL Autonomous. This milestone marks a culmination of collaborative efforts, with Aurora designing the autonomous driving system and Volvo handling the manufacturing muscle.

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The VNL Autonomous boasts the brains of Aurora Driver, a level 4 autonomous driving system honed through billions of virtual training miles and 1.5 million real-world commercial miles. This intelligent system relies on a suite of high-tech sensors, including high-resolution cameras, imaging radars, and a powerful LiDAR sensor capable of detecting objects up to 400 meters away.  For ultimate safety, the truck is equipped with redundant systems for steering, braking, communication, computation, power management, energy storage, and vehicle motion control.

Initial deployments will prioritize safety. Human drivers will remain on board the VNL Autonomous trucks in the coming months as they ferry cargo across North America, prepared to take control when necessary. Aurora plans to announce pilot programs with specific clients later this year, potentially paving the way for wider commercial adoption. While these partnerships remain unnamed, Aurora has a history of collaboration with industry giants like FedEx and Uber Freight, hinting at possibilities.

Looking towards a future without human drivers, Aurora has set an ambitious goal of deploying 20 fully autonomous trucks on the Dallas-Houston route.  Whether these initial driverless vehicles will be Volvo-made or hail from other partners remains to be seen.

However, at the Las Vegas event, both companies confirmed that Volvo has already begun production of a test fleet of the VNL Autonomous truck at its Virginia facility.  Nils Jaeger, President of Volvo Autonomous Solutions, emphasized the significance of this truck as the “first of [the company’s] standardized global autonomous technology platform,” hinting at a future filled with diverse autonomous Volvo truck models ready to reshape the transportation landscape.