Volvo Autonomous Solutions and Aurora have unveiled a prototype of the flagship, long-haul VNL model, integrated with the Aurora Driver technology, which they said was an important step towards launching fully autonomous Class 8 trucks commercially in North America.

“Volvo Autonomous Solutions is proud to take our first, major steps toward the autonomous VNL in North America,” said president Nils Jaeger. “Our long-standing customer base and their priorities are at the forefront of our path forward in shaping autonomous trucking.”

While research and development are supported by global team efforts, highway autonomous truck applications are also being designed and engineered in the US, in preparation for future production at Volvo Trucks’ New River Valley Assembly Operations in Dublin, Virginia.

The switch to autonomous builds on proven safety technology already in place on the VNL, including Volvo Dynamic Steering (VDS) and automated transmission (I-Shift). These, along with a number of other advanced vehicle features, create redundant safety in the autonomous truck’s core systems to ensure safe operations are in place.

Bringing autonomous highway trucks to market will complement today’s transport system to help meet the increasing demand for moving goods while minimising the environmental impact.

“We believe that autonomous solutions will complement the transport system of today and will be implemented where there is a purpose and where it makes sense,” said Sasko Cuklev, head of on-road solutions for Volvo Autonomous Solutions. “It is important for us to be part of this transformation, and together with our customers and partners, to be a leader in building up the new ecosystem.”

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The companies are working toward the next step in implementing their hub to hub transport vision in North America. This includes identifying specific regions and routes to serve as the initial hubs for highway testing. They are also working closely with customers to understand their current and future needs, priorities and demands, in preparation for piloting the autonomous VNL in on road, hub to hub transport scenarios, as well as the eventual adoption of autonomous technology commercially.