Getting petrol and diesel cars off the road and replacing them with electric will go a long way to solving pollution problems but if you can do the same with heavy-fuel-use trucks the results are even more impressive, and that’s what Volvo is banking on with their just announced cabless truck.
Yes, there’s no driver because the truck will be completely autonomous. Not good news for truckies but for the rest of us it should mean safer roads too, because machines don’t get exhausted and have accidents.
Vera – as the new truck is called – is both electric and autonomous and Volvo believes it’s the shape of things to come.
Early next year the company will unleash a 16-tonne all-electric truck and Vera is set to follow in its tyre tracks.
“Everything suggests that the global need for transportation will continue to significantly increase in the coming decade, Claes Nilsson, President of Volvo Trucks said.
“The full potential of the transport industry is yet to be seen, and if we are to meet this demand in a sustainable and efficient way, we must find new solutions.
In order to secure a smoothly functioning goods flow system we also need to exploit existing infrastructure better than currently. The transport system we are developing can be an important complement to today’s solutions and can help meet many of the challenges faced by society, transport companies and transport buyers.”
The cabless solution is mainly aimed at use in towns and other urban areas because while the lack of cab does reduce weight, it is not so great in terms of aerodynamics, which is an important fuel saver at higher speeds.
While the cabless truck may look very futuristic, Volvo points out current logistics systems suit it very well and there are other benefits too.
Mikael Karlsson, Volvo’s Vice President of Autonomous Solutions, said:
“Our system can be seen as an extension of the advanced logistics solutions that many industries already apply today.
“Since we use autonomous vehicles with no exhaust emissions and low noise, their operation can take place at any time of day or night. The solution utilises existing road infrastructure and load carriers, making it easier to recoup costs and allowing for integration with existing operations,”
As for the electric powertrain, Volvo says Vera uses the same battery packs as its other electric trucks.
Earlier this year, the Swedish group said it would start selling electric trucks next year.
First off the rank will by the Volvo FL Electric, a 16-tonner that can be configured with different battery packs for a capacity between 100 and 300 kWh, giving a range of up to 300 km.
Volvo Trucks is now looking for companies interested in the autonomous and cabless concept and wants to partner with them to develop transport solutions around Vera.
Tony Bosworth writes for www.TheDriven.io and RenewEconomy.com.au. He has 35 years experience in journalism, and has been instrumental in launching and editing several automotive magazines including Which Car? magazine in the UK.