Volvo offers package deal for autonomous trucks

Transport-as-a-service agreement bundles trucks, control systems, maintenance, repair and insurance, with Volvo paid per tonne transported

The vehicles are fully autonomous and are managed from the outside by the operator of the wheel loader.
The vehicles are fully autonomous and are managed from the outside by the operator of the wheel loader.

Truck maker Volvo has entered into a deal with mining firm Broennoey to offer transport-as-a-service using autonomous trucks, Reuters reports.  

The agreement bundles together the provision of the autonomous trucks with a virtual driver, control tower system, maintenance, repair and insurance, with Volvo paid per tonne transported.

Seven trucks will transport limestone for Norway’s Broennoey Kalk AS from a mine to a nearby port starting this winter.

Multibillion dollar potential

Driverless transportation is seen as a massive revenue opportunity, with the Boston Consulting Group expecting connected high-tech vehicles to generate about $150 billion of new profits for the auto sector by 2035.

But regulatory, technological and infrastructure roadblocks stand in the way of deploying fully autonomous vehicles on public roads and the journey is proving long and costly.

Volvo has decided for now to only deploy driverless trucks in pilots for customers, aiming to perform specific jobs on a limited, repetitive and controlled route, often on enclosed customer sites.

“There’s a lot of uncertainties and that’s why we believe the right way to develop autonomous is with commercial pilots where we partner up with customers, go for real implementations and learn from that,” Sasko Cuklev, Volvo Trucks’ autonomous solutions director, told Reuters in an interview.

Other areas Volvo is considering for autonomous vehicles include hub-to-hub transport on a highway road or regional hauling over shorter distances such as between ports and warehouses using its cabinless truck Vera.

Other firms that are experimenting with using self-driving trucks on public roads, often limiting speeds, picking less busy industrial roads or having people in the cabin in case the technology fails.

Nvidia-backed startup TuSimple said in May that it would deploy its self-driving trucks to haul mail between U.S. Postal Service facilities in Phoenix and Dallas in the southwestern United States.

Sweden’s Einride is testing its cabinless trucks to transport freight between a warehouse and a terminal on public roads in Sweden.

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