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Vera-ing towards the future: Volvo’s new trucking solution and the IAA

Meet Vera: Volvo's autonomous answer to transportation and logistics operations (Photo: Volvo Trucks)

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René Tellers
René Tellers

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Volvo introduces Vera, the future of commercial vehicles goes on display at the IAA and 2025AD wins an award: read our weekly analysis of the most important news in automated driving!

Last week saw the 67th IAA Commercial Vehicles – the world’s leading trade show for transport, logistics and mobility – kick off in Hannover. The event attracts huge numbers of visitors, all descending on the immense exhibition space to get a glimpse of the latest models, ideas and visions the industry has to offer. And with prototypes such as Volvo’s Vera on show, they certainly won’t be disappointed.

Volvo revealed Vera a few days before the IAA opened its doors. In a slick new video (also above), you see Mikael Karlsson, Vice President Autonomous Solutions at Volvo Trucks, walking alongside what could be an oversized racing car. He describes the vehicle as: “Nothing similar to what you’ve seen from us before,” adding that it is impossible to drive. This is because it wasn’t designed to be driven.

Vera is part of a larger system. The sportscar-like vessel will essentially replace the driver’s cab in normal trucks, and is able to move goods and heavy loads. The autonomous electric vehicles will operate together in a network, connected through a cloud-based service and management center.

According to the video, the system has the potential to optimize transport in highly repetitive, short distance transport flows, with large volumes of goods, such as those in ports, factory areas and logistics mega centers. Based purely on logistical considerations, it is designed to remove the need for drivers. Volvo says it will provide an efficient and sustainable solution to the growth in e-commerce and the shortage of truck drivers. This all sounds good in theory, so it will be interesting to see how it is received in Hannover, in front of the world’s industry experts.

Mirror mirror off the truck

Of course, Volvo isn’t the only company making product debuts right now. Everywhere you look at the IAA, manufacturers, suppliers and disruptors have something to offer. Take the new Mercedes Benz Actros for example. To mark the latest revamp of the semi-automated truck, the company is showcasing the exclusive “Edition 1” special model at the event, which will be limited to just 400 units. New features include two cockpit screens and aerodynamically optimized camera wings.

A glimpse inside the cockpit of the future: digital screens and no wing mirrors (Photo: Daimler)

Produced by MEKRA Lang Digital VisionSystem (DVS), the cameras are designed to replace the large mirrors normally found on the outside of the driver’s cab. They transmit information from the road and the surrounding environment directly to a digital display in the cockpit. 60 times per second, in real time, to be precise.

“This groundbreaking achievement is based on our long-standing partnership with Mercedes-Benz and has resulted in the first ever application of a digital mirror replacement system in series production,” says Dr. Werner Lang, Managing Director at MEKRA Lang. They are set to go into production for Mercedes-Benz in 2019. You might remember that digital wing mirrors were also on show at the IAA in 2016, however this new announcement about series production marks a clear step forward for this technology.

Elsewhere, Daimler will be presenting the Vision Urbanetic that we reported on last week, while Ford will showcase a new family of Transit products with built-in connectivity and advanced electrification. It’s not all about freight transport and logistics however. IAA-goers will also find electric garbage trucks, motorhomes with a fuel-cell drive and a three-wheeled e-scooter designed for cities.

My hope is that the diverse possibilities on show at the IAA give autonomous trucking a real boost and result in tangible progress – after all, it remains one of the most viable applications for automated driving. 

Success in Brussels

And finally, some great news about 2025AD. On September 19, representatives from the world of automotive technology gathered in Brussels for the AutoSens Awards. The event, held at the city’s iconic Atomium, recognizes the brightest minds, best companies and most influential projects in the field. We are happy to report that we won silver in the “Most Engaging Content” category.

Director of the AutoSens Awards Robert Stead said: “Nominations almost doubled compared to last year’s event, so it was a difficult task to whittle down the shortlist, but we are very happy to have such an exciting winners list of industry trail-blazers including those at the forefront of development of vehicle perception systems.”

We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone in our automated driving community – your contributions keep the dialogue on our platform active and dynamic, and make it the success that it is!

So long, drive safely (until cars are driverless),

René Tellers

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