An announcement from Volvo Trucks details a new autonomous platform currently in development, known as the Vera.
This futuristic-looking hauler is a relatively small electric vehicle made to pull around standard semi-trailers. Compared to a typical tractor-trailer setup, the Vera has a smaller form-factor, bearing some forward-thinking resemblance to the retro Steinwinter Supercargo truck.
Unlike recent electric trucking ventures from Tesla and from Volvo itself, the Vera is not meant to navigate modern highways. According to the manufacturer, it’s been designed “for regular and repetitive tasks characterized by relatively short distances, large volumes of goods, and high delivery precision.” In other words, the Vera is meant to be used to carry containers across large manufacturing and shipping sites. In email correspondence with The Drive, Volvo also added that “the vehicles are engineered to be safe when part of the route includes a public road, but Vera is not intended for over the road freight.”
With no human driver aboard, Vera must rely on what the company calls a “transport control center.” The idea is to have multiple Veras at a shipping site form a wireless network and have the control center serve as an A.I. foreman of sorts.
“The transport control center continuously monitors the progress of the transport and keeps an accurate watch of each vehicle’s position, the batteries’ charge, load content, service requirements, and a number of other parameters,” the Volvo release reads.
The Vera utilizes the same motors and batteries used in current electrified Volvo trucks. The company tells The Drive that the truck’s power storage capacity is 300 kilowatt-hours of electricity, translating to an estimated 60 miles of range between charges. While that may not seem like much, that range would amount to several trips across a naval port or similar property. To demonstrate, Volvo has released a short video showing the system in motion.