Volvo’s Autonomous Solutions business unit and self-driving technology developer Aurora have developed on-highway autonomous truck designed for the North American market.

The companies recently revealed a prototype of Volvo Trucks’ long-haul VNL model, which they described as an important step towards launching fully autonomous Class 8 trucks commercially in North America.

“Volvo Autonomous Solutions is proud to take our first, major steps toward the autonomous Volvo VNL in North America,” said Nils Jaeger, president of Volvo Autonomous Solutions. “Our long-standing customer base and their priorities are at the forefront of our path forward in shaping autonomous trucking. We strongly believe in a future in which safe, sustainable, efficient transport solutions are essential for any society to prosper, and autonomous commercial trucking is an important piece of that transformation.”

While research and development are supported by global team efforts, on-highway autonomous truck applications are also being designed and engineered in the US, in preparation for future production at Volvo Trucks’ New River Valley Assembly Operations in Dublin, Virginia.

Volvo says safety has always been at the core of its innovations and the transformation to autonomous is rooted in the proven safety technologies already in place on the Volvo VNL, including Volvo Dynamic Steering (VDS) and automated transmission (I-Shift).

These existing technologies, along with a number of other advanced vehicle features, create, it says, a redundant safety-based solution in the autonomous truck’s core systems to ensure safe operations are in place, ensuring the highest safety outcome at every step of the development process.

“We are proud that our Volvo VNL model will serve as the foundation for the development of North American autonomous trucks to offer our customers the next generation of safe, efficient and sustainable transport solutions,” said Peter Voorhoeve, president of Volvo Trucks North America.

Contributing to a more sustainable society is another driving force of Volvo Autonomous Solutions’ strategy. Bringing autonomous Volvo on-highway trucks to market will complement today’s transport system to help meet the increasing demand for moving goods while minimizing the environmental impact.

As Volvo Autonomous Solutions and Aurora continue to make progress with the Volvo VNL prototype, which to date has only been revealed digitally, the partners are working toward the next step in implementing their hub-to-hub transport vision in North America. This includes identifying specific regions and routes to serve as the initial hubs for on-road highway testing. In addition, Volvo Autonomous Solutions is working with customers in preparation for piloting the autonomous Volvo VNL in on-road, hub-to-hub transport scenarios, as well as the eventual adoption of autonomous technology commercially.