Vera is quiet, understated and the future of bulk logistics

Date: 8th Thursday, August, 2019

A quiet revolution has begun.  Talk around the real application of autonomous vehicles in a commercial context has been, up to this point, mostly exploratory.  Nevertheless, the tide of change towards a more efficient and greener logistics model is now well on its way.  One notable example is Vera.  No, not the Duckworth variety but Volvo Trucks’ electric, connected and autonomous vehicle which is being trialled in partnership with global transport services business, DFDS.

What is significant about this collaboration is the desire to develop a mechanism for a continuous flow of goods – time after time after time.  In this instance, it is from DFDS’ logistics centre to an APM Terminals port facility in Gothenburg in Sweden.  Vera is ideally suited to large, bulk transport over short distances and at low speeds.  Perfect.  Couple this with Volvo’s state of the art electric motors to drive these beasts and we have an eco-friendly, quiet solution to a task in a sustainable form.

Humans are not totally out of the picture yet – you’ll be pleased to hear.  Thankfully, sitting high-up in a control tower we have watchful eyes overseeing the operation.  Until these systems are tried and tested, trust – which translates amongst other things to safety and reliability - will be under scrutiny. 

If successful, however, the trial will lead to Vera being adopted by DFDS in a real transport assignment in an industrial area - though some work is yet to be done to achieve operational readiness.  As to the future of commercial autonomous vehicles, the road ahead is becoming a little clearer by the day.  Logistics businesses are on the constant lookout for technologies that can offer a competitive advantage or cost reduction.  Computerised transport systems will eat into human capital – there’s no doubt about it.  Likewise, new jobs, with yet to be created titles, will also emerge.

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