The steady advancement of vehicle automation technologies creates exciting possibilities for the future of the transport industry and society as a whole. Volvo Trucks has been at the forefront of this global evolution for well over two decades and believes automation will increasingly transform the way we live and work in the coming years.
The technological possibilities of tomorrow have intrigued and inspired us for generations; today, technology moves faster than ever. Robots are taking over service industries. Cars and trucks are capable of driving themselves. This rapid advancement in technology can give the impression of a rather faceless and functional future, but that’s not Volvo’s vision. Automation already plays a huge part in our lives and, for Volvo Trucks, people have always been and will remain at the center of a forward-thinking philosophy. As technology now moves to a point where seemingly radical new concepts are within reach, Volvo Trucks continues to develop practical solutions to help make the lives of professional drivers, motor carriers and other road users safer and easier.
“At some point in the future, self-driving Volvo trucks will be a reality on our roads in North America and part of our society, probably starting in confined or private areas under controlled conditions,” says Göran Nyberg, President of Volvo Trucks North America. “We continue preparing for deployment of trucks with higher levels of advanced driver assistance systems, but exact timing depends on many things, namely regulations, infrastructure and safety standards, and market demand.”
Volvo Trucks globally released films “Automation – the Big Change” and “Automation – Driving into the Future” that explore future truck technology. The two-part film shows the vision and purpose behind the ongoing global automation work by Volvo Trucks, as well as the hopes and concerns of those whose daily lives it will impact.
“Automation will improve productivity and safety,” says Sasko Cuklev, Volvo Trucks’ Global Director of Autonomous Solutions. “It will allow us to optimize traffic management and route planning, and reduce equipment wear. Automation will help us develop more energy efficient solutions, and with solutions like platooning we will be able to decrease fuel consumption.”
While a shift toward using fully automated vehicles forms part of the development, Volvo Trucks remains focused on a stepwise approach to implementing advanced driver assistance systems to enhance the driver profession and help further increase safety, productivity and convenience.
“Automation is not about eliminating jobs,” says Ann-Sofi Karlsson, Volvo Trucks’ Global Director of Human Factors for Automation. “Skilled professional drivers will still be in high demand. As trade and the world population continues to grow, so does the transport of goods. Automation is about making it more efficient.”
Volvo is already utilizing automation through advanced driver assistance systems to help professional drivers in North America. Volvo Active Driver Assist, a comprehensive, camera-and radar-based collision mitigation system is standard equipment on the new Volvo VNR Series for regional haul and Volvo VNL Series for long haul. If a metallic object of size is detected, audible and visual warnings are made to alert the driver, including a red heads-up warning light reflected on the windshield. Warnings are displayed up to 3.0 seconds before an imminent impact with the stationary object. If the system recognizes the stationary object as a vehicle and the driver does not take action, Volvo Active Driver Assist will automatically alert the driver and engage the brakes to help the driver mitigate the risk of collision. Thanks to the camera input, Volvo Active Driver Assist also integrates a Lane Departure Warning System that alerts drivers when an unintentional lane change (one in which the turn signal is not activated) occurs.
Safety remains a top focus of Volvo Trucks’ global automation teams. Key truck automation pilot projects in mining operations, the refuse industry and sugar cane plantations have already demonstrated that automated technology has potential to not only improve safety but vastly increase productivity, while truck platooning on highways offers the possibility of improved safety and lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Volvo Trucks continues to explore platooning in North America.
By involving the customer in ongoing dialogue and research about such developments, Volvo Trucks aims to stay focused on human-centric issues. Work with vehicle automation will continue to benefit motor carriers, professional truck drivers and society as a whole.