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Volvo Trucks' electric and autonomous Vera gets its first job

The pilot program for Vera will take place in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Volvo Trucks has been working on a self-driving platform that could be used in drayage. Drayage is the industry term for short-haul trucking, typically from a ship to a rail hub or a nearby warehouse.

The project is called Vera, and it's essentially a brain, some motors, batteries and no provision for a human driver. It's a little odd-looking, but that hasn't stopped it from getting a job in Volvo's home town of Gothenburg, which the company announced on Thursday.

These drayage drives are repetitive and short, making them ideal for today's autonomous vehicle technology that still has trouble dealing with the kind of complexity that most average consumers would see on, say, a drive to work.

Volvo's Vera will save tons of money and pollution by taking both combustion engines and human drivers out of the equation for short-haul trucking.

Volvo Trucks

Volvo's electric Vera is then ideally situated to make its trip from a logistics center to the port at Gothenburg over and over again with minimal human interaction while also significantly reducing the environmental impact of the shipping process.

Cool, right?

"Now we have the opportunity to implement Vera in an ideal setting and further develop her potential for other similar operations," says Mikael Karlsson, vice president of autonomous solutions at Volvo Trucks.

The pilot program will use several Vera trucks that will be monitored remotely from a control tower to make sure that they don't do anything untoward while on the road. Having multiple vehicles means that they can be swapped in and out as they need to be charged.

Volvo Trucks doesn't have an official start date for Vera yet, but it's likely that there needs to be a bit more development and ironing out of kinks before it can hit the roads.

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