Thursday, June 13, 2019

Autonomous Road Haulage Moves a Step Closer as Container Freight Terminal Automates Deliveries

Infrastructure Adapted to Allow Unaccompanied Transport
Shipping News Feature
SWEDEN – Anyone who has predicted that autonomous road haulage won't catch on will seemingly soon have to change their view as the pace of adoption picks up. The latest move in the field of driverless freight transport sees Volvo Trucks electric, connected and autonomous vehicle Vera form part of an integrated solution to transport goods from a DFDS logistics centre to a port terminal in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Just last year Volvo Trucks presented its first autonomous solution, designed for repetitive assignments in logistics centres, factories and ports. Vera is suited for short distances, transporting large volumes of goods with high precision. The purpose of the latest collaboration is to implement Vera in a real application, enabling a connected system for a continuous flow of goods, from a DFDS logistics centre to an APM Terminals port facility in Gothenburg, for subsequent distribution across the world.

The aim is to implement a connected system consisting of several Vera vehicles monitored by a control tower. The purpose is to enable a seamless and constant flow responsive to demands on greater efficiency, flexibility and sustainability. The collaboration with DFDS is a first step towards implementing Vera in a real transport assignment on pre-defined public roads in an industrial area. Torben Carlsen, CEO of DFDS, commented:

“We want to be at the forefront of connected, autonomous transportation. This collaboration will help us develop an efficient, flexible and sustainable long-term solution for receiving autonomous vehicles arriving at our gates, benefitting our customers, the environment and our business.”

Volvo says its autonomous transport solution will be further developed in terms of technology, operations management and infrastructure adaptations, before it can be fully operational. Moreover, necessary safety precautions will be taken to meet societal requirements for a safe path towards autonomous transports. As Volvo Trucks gains more experience, Vera has the potential to be used in similar applications as a complement to today’s transport solutions. Mikael Karlsson, Vice President Autonomous Solutions at Volvo Trucks, observed:

“Now we have the opportunity to implement Vera in an ideal setting and further develop her potential for other similar operations. Autonomous transport with low noise levels and zero exhaust emissions have an important role to play in the future of logistics, and will benefit both business and society. We see this collaboration as an important start and want to drive progress in this area. Vera may have a speed limit, but we don’t. Testing has already started and we intend to implement the solution within the coming years.”

The current system has been designed to deliver boxes according to demand, controlled from the tower with a solution suited for repetitive flows with a maximum speed of 40 km/h. Infrastructure adaptations were necessary, including automated gates at the terminals. The initiative is being carried out with support from the Swedish Innovation Agency Vinnova, the Swedish Transport Administration and the Swedish Energy Agency through the Strategic vehicle research and innovation programme FFI.