Check out Volvo's 'superhuman' autonomous VNL

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Updated Jun 11, 2024
Transcript

Volvo Autonomous Solutions unveiled The Volvo VNL Autonomous at ACT Expo last month. Created in partnership with Aurora, this autonomous version of Volvo's all-new VNL is 30% more efficient than a standard truck, the company claims. Making this efficiency possible is the incredible computational power inside of the truck. With its advanced sensors and processing power, it can act as a "superhuman" driver, sensing traffic issues that a human could not. To make the truck safe, Volvo has implemented redundant systems in the truck. For example, if the steering fails, there is backup steering. Volvo is currently working with fleets in Texas in order for this truck to be operated on two major routes. 

Transcript

00;00;04;00 - 00;00;11;16

Lawson Rudisill

At Act Expo, Volvo unveiled an autonomous version of their new Vnl truck in partnership with Aurora.

00;00;11;22 - 00;00;20;11

Sterling Anderson

We designed this specifically to be superhuman, better in every way than what a human can do.

00;00;20;14 - 00;00;27;29

Lawson Rudisill

Volvo built a specialized version of its Vnl, and Aurora implemented its advanced self-driving technology.

00;00;28;05 - 00;00;38;26

Sterling Anderson

It sees about three times further than any human can. It tracks hundreds of objects in its surroundings simultaneously. Its high resolution radar sees through snow, rain and fog.

00;00;39;01 - 00;00;44;08

Lawson Rudisill

Making all this possible is the immense computational power of the onboard computer.

00;00;44;12 - 00;00;56;22

Sterling Anderson

Top of the line mobile chips will do about 38 trillion operations per second. The computer in this truck can do up to 5400 trillion operations per second.

00;00;56;24 - 00;01;04;06

Lawson Rudisill

With all that processing power onboard. This makes Volvo's autonomous vehicle even more fuel efficient than the standard version.

00;01;04;09 - 00;01;38;18

Sterling Anderson

A couple of weeks ago. Aurora published research showing that these trucks ultimately had the opportunity, not just for the 10% improvement in fuel efficiency the Volvo extracted with the new Vnl. But to go beyond that to over 30% additional fuel efficiency improvement through a combination of eco driving, slower cruise speeds enabled by the ability of this truck to drive around the clock and not stop for brakes, not stop for sleeping, not soft, not stopping for meals still gets close to their destination faster than a conventionally human driven truck.

00;01;38;20 - 00;01;55;12

Lawson Rudisill

With Aurora software making the truck more efficient. Volvo has implemented redundant hardware to increase safety. This means that there's two of any system that's critical to safety, such as braking and steering. So why is there so much redundancy in this truck? Why is there two of every.

00;01;55;15 - 00;02;12;17

Shahrukh Kazmi

The key reason is typically on a normal standard truck. You will get one set of steering, braking, communication and power supply systems. And you see them. Those those failures happen, but not that often. But they do happen. And in autonomous technology, you don't have the human driver who can actually go and react to that, those kind of scenarios.

00;02;12;19 - 00;02;28;09

Shahrukh Kazmi

So what we do is we actually identify all the key safety critical functions and we duplicate them. We duplicate not only the systems, we also duplicate the power. So we actually make them independent of each other. So when one system fails, the other one system kicks in.

00;02;28;11 - 00;02;34;01

Lawson Rudisill

Despite how safe this truck may be, will it really be operated with no human intervention?

00;02;34;03 - 00;02;51;21

Nils Jaeger

In the initial period, we will operate with safety driver, but at a certain point in time, when we have everything in place and when we feel really and know that we are safe, then of course the safety cover can be removed. And that is a very important step, of course. And this step we have actually achieved already in Europe in the mining segment.

00;02;51;21 - 00;03;00;22

Nils Jaeger

And now, of course, the big next step for us is to bring autonomy also to the US and bring it further on the highway segment.

00;03;00;24 - 00;03;08;28

Lawson Rudisill

This truck is superhuman, extremely safe, and will still have a human behind the wheel. But how will it actually be implemented into the real world?

00;03;09;05 - 00;03;30;04

Sasko Cuklev

We want to be able to transport the freight from the customer depot to the customer depot. How we'll start now is that there will be specific autonomous terminals set up along the highways. So the first model on the customer depot to the autonomous terminal will be done with a manual truck. And the driver, they drive into that terminal and there we swap. 

00;03;30;04 - 00;03;47;24

Sasko Cuklev

We do the long stretch, the long hauling autonomous to the second autonomous terminal. And then we swap back and do manually back to the customer depot. That is how we will start. Then eventually when the technology matures, hopefully we will be able to go into and just customer deep into customer depot.

00;03;47;27 - 00;03;54;10

Lawson Rudisill

However, currently Volvo's autonomous truck is only offered as a trucking as a service solution.

00;03;54;12 - 00;04;13;05

Sasko Cuklev

We in the beginning want to take the full responsibility, sort of de-risk it for our customers. So we want them to be able, in an easy way, to integrate it into their their way of working. And then we will figure it out. And and we believe that doing that, the best way is to to offer a full solution.

00;04;13;08 - 00;04;26;25

Sasko Cuklev

So the first two lanes that we will start to operating autonomously are in Texas. It is between Dallas and Houston and Fort Worth and El Paso. We work with several customers and we are onboarding them today.

00;04;27;01 - 00;04;31;20

Lawson Rudisill

So we have freight in Texas can reach out if their interest is out. Yes. 

00;04;31;22 - 00;04;34;08

Sasko Cuklev

Tell them to call me.

00;04;34;11 - 00;05;18;28

Lawson Rudisill

To learn about the human driven version of Volvos. I'll do vnl. Click the video on screen now.

00;05;19;01 - 00;05;29;06

Sasko Cuklev

And that is also where we are engaging our customers in those flows, trying to understand exactly how that will look like, who does what and how we should set that up together with our customers.

00;05;29;08 - 00;08;50;10

Lawson Rudisill

So it has been tested in Texas so far. Is it? Is that.

00;08;50;13 - 00;09;10;23

Nils Jaeger

What we're very proud about is that we have created a platform approach. So we will actually really have the opportunity to bring this technology to all the Volvo Group truck brands. And by this, of course, we can scale. We can scale across geographies. We can stay look across the Volvo Group truck brands, we can scale across drive drivetrain options, and we can scale across different virtual drivers. 

00;09;11;00 - 00;10;54;16

Nils Jaeger

And that, of course, gives us enormous opportunities to bring the benefits of autonomy to many different segments across the world.

00;10;54;19 - 00;11;24;27

Sasko Cuklev

We work with several, customers, and, we are onboarding them today. So what we are doing now is to, we are running moving freight for some of our customers today, according to the autonomous process, we do the middle portion, which will be the autonomous. We do that today, with manual, truck and manual drivers. As soon as we get the autonomous functionality in place, we will do that autonomously with a safety driver.

00;11;25;01 - 00;12;28;11

Sasko Cuklev

And then when we are ready, we will remove the safety driver and do it fully autonomous. But we are already today interacting with our customers according to the autonomous process. So onboarding them again.

00;12;28;13 - 00;13;10;13

Sasko Cuklev

We we are looking into several business models. everything from, a transport to service truck as a service. Also, like truck sales, we we are exploring that as we speak.

00;13;10;16 - 00;13;43;03

Sasko Cuklev

So we want to be the sort of the the one one stop shop for them now, to start with. But then as we go and as the technology matures, we are super open for different types of of business models. 

00;13;43;06 - 00;13;52;03

Lawson Rudisill

So currently, right now, this is only a trucking as a service product. Is that correct? And in the future we will be able to order. Is that is that correct? 

00;13;52;05 - 00;13;56;27

Sasko Cuklev

Yeah. As I said, we are very open. for different models.