Designing Driverless Trucks

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This is an interesting video, all about designing driverless trucks, and specifically about the design of the Volvo Vera concept. This a typical concept design, made to look good in the media and not, necessarily a practical solution to the driverless truck problem.

Like all of the current crop of autonomous concept trucks, this is likely to become more of a reality in a closed controlled environment working moving trailers around in an area like a container yard. Control systems will be able to drive the truck pulling trailers in repetitive tasks where trailers are being moved from one specific area to another, within a fenced off area away from general traffic or human beings.

Anyone who saw the movie Logan, starring Hugh Jackman, a few years ago, will understand why the trucks need to be in a sealed off controlled area:

The two trucks, Volvo’s in reality and Logan’s in a fictional film are surprisingly similar in design, but highly divergent in the way they function around other road users. This difference illustrates the most difficult part of designing driverless trucks, knowing what’s going on around the truck.

In the driverless truck, the power system, the steering system and the sheer engineering involved in picking up a trailer and moving it from A to B is a known quantity. We have been doing this for some time.

The issues arise when there are other entities on the route which are moving and not running under the same control system. A container yard is a known quantity and if all the other moving vehicles are working from the same control system, there is no issue, traffic is controlled centrally.

This is where all of the hard work in driverless truck design is now being concentrated, creating a truck which can observe its ever changing environment and react safely to uncontrolled events without compromising itself or anything else on the route.


designing driverless trucks