Volvo and Aurora introduce their first self-driving truck

The companies unveiled their autonomous truck at ACT Expo in Las Vegas.


Volvo and Aurora have unveiled their first production autonomous truck, three years after the companies initially announced that they were teaming up. They've just showed off the Volvo VNL Autonomous truck, which was designed by autonomous trucking and robotaxi company Aurora but will be manufactured by Volvo, at ACT Expo in Las Vegas.

It's powered by Aurora Driver, a level 4 autonomous driving system that uses high-resolution cameras, imaging radars, a LiDAR sensor that can detect objects up to 400 meters away and even more sensors. Aurora's technology has driven billions of virtual miles for training, as well as 1.5 million commercial miles on actual public roads. For safety purposes, the truck has "redundant steering, braking, communication, computation, power management, energy storage and vehicle motion management systems."

According to TechCrunch, the vehicle will still have a human driver behind the wheel to take over whenever needed when it starts ferrying cargo across North America over the next few months. An Aurora spokesperson told the publication that it will be announcing pilot programs with its clients that are planning to use Volvo's truck sometime later this year. It didn't name any companies, but the startup previously ran pilot programs with FedEx and Uber Freight.

The autonomous vehicle company also intends to deploy 20 fully driverless trucks between Dallas and Houston soon, but it's unclear if this inaugural fleet of driverless vehicles will be comprised of Volvo's trucks or of its other manufacturing partners'. The companies did say at the Las Vegas event, though, that Volvo has already started manufacturing a test fleet of the VNL Autonomous truck at its New River Valley assembly facility in Virginia. Nils Jaeger, President of Volvo Autonomous Solutions, called this truck the "first of [the company's] standardized global autonomous technology platform." Jaeger added that it will enable Volvo "to introduce additional models in the future."