Volvo, DHL get ready for hub-to-hub autonomous trucking

Volvo VNL autonomous prototype pulling yellow DHL trailer

Volvo Autonomous Solutions (VAS) will work with logistics provider DHL Supply Chain on hub-to-hub autonomous freight hauling, joining a rush of fleets and autonomous startups envisioning the future road without human drivers.

The key detail missing is when the program starts. VAS said that would come later.

Volvo VNL long-haul sleeper cabs are being retrofitted by Aurora Innovation with the Aurora Driver, an autonomous system the startup is testing on passenger cars and trucks. Aurora also is working with Paccar Inc.’s Peterbilt unit to test Model 579 trucks on highways in Texas.

In a company video, VAS said autonomy is less about the truck and more about suiting business needs and backfilling a shortage of seated trucks. Aging drives are retiring. Others are being forced out by substance abuse.

Working with Aurora, VAS sees a transport-as-a-service (TaaS) model configured to integrate and scale autonomous freight for shippers, carriers, logistics service providers and freight brokers. 

Planning truck-as-a-service model

“This is more than an autonomous truck — it is the Autonomous Transport Solution, which we believe will create value for the entire transportation ecosystem, all with optimized operations that reduce emissions and increase safety,” Nils Jaeger, president of Volvo Autonomous Solutions, said in a press release.

The future deployment of the Class 8 Volvo VNL autonomous trucks will be DHL’s first TaaS operation globally. The German company reserved 100 Navistar autonomous trucks from startup TuSimple last December and earlier joined the Partnership Development Program at Embark Trucks.

“We are full-speed-ahead on the adoption of the next wave of transportation solutions including autonomous trucks,” said Jim Monkmeyer, DHL Supply Chain North America president, transportation.

“We see huge potential in advanced technology solutions like autonomous trucks to address the needs of our customers around efficiency, reliability and increased capacity, which only hastened during the pandemic,” Monkmeyer said..   

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