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Volvo Trucks debuts autonomous transport of goods at Gothenburg port

Volvo Trucks’ electric, connected and autonomous vehicle Vera will form part of an integrated solution to transport goods from a logistics centre to a port terminal in Gothenburg, Sweden. The assignment is a result of a new collaboration between Volvo Trucks and the ferry and logistics company, DFDS.

The purpose of the collaboration is to implement Vera in a real application, enabling a connected system for a continuous flow of goods, from a DFDS’ logistics centre to an APM terminal in the port, for distribution across the world.

In 2018, Volvo Trucks presented its first electric, connected and autonomous solution, designed for repetitive assignments in logistics centres, factories and ports. Vera is suited for short distances, transporting large volumes of goods with high precision. “Now we have the opportunity to implement Vera in an ideal setting and further develop her potential for other similar operations,” said Mikael Karlsson, Vice President Autonomous Solutions at Volvo Trucks.

The aim is to implement a connected system consisting of several Vera vehicles monitored by a control tower. The purpose is to enable a seamless and constant flow responsive to demands on greater efficiency, flexibility and sustainability. The collaboration with DFDS is a first step towards implementing Vera in a real transport assignment on pre-defined public roads in an industrial area.

“We want to be at the forefront of connected, autonomous transportation. This collaboration will help us develop an efficient, flexible and sustainable long-term solution for receiving autonomous vehicles arriving at our gates, benefitting our customers, the environment and our business,” said Torben Carlsen, CEO of DFDS.

The autonomous transport solution will be further developed in terms of technology, operations management and infrastructure adaptations, before it can be fully operational. Moreover, necessary safety precautions will be taken to meet societal requirements for a safe path towards autonomous transports. As Volvo Trucks gains more experience, Vera has the potential to be used in similar applications as a complement to today’s transport solutions.

“Autonomous transports with low noise levels and zero exhaust emissions have an important role to play in the future of logistics, and will benefit both business and society. We see this collaboration as an important start and want to drive progress in this area. Vera may have a speed limit, but we don’t. Testing has already started and we intend to implement the solution within the coming years,” added Mikael Karlsson.

The assignment is to move containers from the DFDS logistics centre in Gothenburg to an APM terminal in the port according to needed capacity. The autonomous system will be monitored by an operator in a control tower who is also responsible for the transport. This solution is suited for repetitive flows with a maximum speed of 40 km/h.

Infrastructure adaptations are part of the scope in the implementation of the total transport system, including automated gates at the terminals. Volvo Trucks and DFDS are main partners but several actors are involved in implementing Vera’s first assignment.

The initiative is carried out with support from the Swedish Innovation Agency Vinnova, the Swedish Transport Administration and the Swedish Energy Agency through the Strategic vehicle research and innovation programme FFI.

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