What would trucks look like if they didn't need to accommodate a human driver? Volvo Trucks' Vera vehicle is an exploration of this idea, doing away with the cabin entirely so it can more efficiently tow goods around ports and factories. The freewheeling four-wheeler has just been assigned its first task, and will soon go to work delivering containers to a port terminal in Sweden.

Revealed in September last year, the autonomous Vera is powered by the same drivetrain and battery packs found in Volvo's electric trucks. It is, however, more electric sled than electric big rig, consisting of four-wheels and a low-profile body that can be latched onto by standard load carriers and trailers.

The thinking is that one day fleets of connected Veras can scurry around ports, factories and other facilities with large loads on the back. Communicating with one another via a control center over the cloud, this could optimize traffic flow, keep operations running smoothly and minimize waiting times.

And Volvo Trucks is now set to see how well this works in practice, with Vera receiving its first assignment towing containers from a logistics center in Gothenburg, Sweden, to a nearby port terminal for distribution around the world. The pilot is a collaboration with logistics company DFDS, and will involve short strips with speeds limited to 40 km/h (25 mph).

"Autonomous transports 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," says Mikael Karlsson, Vice President Autonomous Solutions at Volvo Trucks. "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 video below provides an overview of Vera's first assignment.

Source: Volvo Trucks

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