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Volvo Unveils its New VNL Series Semi-Autonomous Trucks

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【Summary】Volvo Truck North America unveiled its new VNL series of semi trucks this week with a host of high-tech autonomous features including forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control.

Original Eric Walz    Jul 14, 2017 11:59 AM PT
Volvo Unveils its New VNL Series Semi-Autonomous Trucks

Volvo Truck North America unveiled its new VNL series of semi trucks this week with a host of high-tech features that are sure to appeal to many long-haul truck drivers. Volvo Truck, which operates as a separate entity from the Swedish automaker's car group, is adding a suite of advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) to its truck lines as standard equipment. This includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control.

"The new Volvo VNL builds on our commitment to deliver the safest, most comfortable and most efficient long-haul truck on the market," said Volvo Trucks North America president, Göran Nyberg.

Advanced driver assist systems are quickly becoming popular for passenger vehicle manufacturers, including Tesla, Ford and Cadillac, but have yet to make their way into long-haul trucks — at least not as standard features. Many pieces are available as options or aftermarket retrofits for truck fleets. Volvo claims to be the first OEM (original equipment manufacturer) to offer all of these semi-autonomous features as standard equipment.

"It's good to see truck makers starting to make this technology more widely available since truck drivers might be more susceptible to the sort of accidents these systems protect against due to their long hours behind the wheel," said Sam Abuelsamid, a research analyst for Navigant. "Long-haul trucking is likely to be one of the first broad applications of automated driving technologies."

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Throughout the trucking industry, there are widespread fears that autonomous technology will lead to enormous displacement among truck drivers. A recent study found that automated trucks could reduce the demand for drivers as much as 50 to 70% in the U.S. and Europe by 2030, with 4.4 million of the 6.4 million professional drivers on both continents rendered obsolete. These fears are heightened as tech companies introduce eye-catching, cabin-less prototypes designed to cut the driver completely out of the equation.

Safety Features

Volvo says its advanced driver assist system combines camera and radar sensors to detect metallic objects and vehicles that are stationary or vehicles braking in front of a truck. It also works with cruise control to help the truck driver maintain a safe distance behind other vehicles. If a forward vehicle slows down, Volvo semi-autonomous system will alert the driver and, if necessary, reduce throttle, apply the brake, and even downshift the transmission.

The truck's infotainment system includes a five-inch screen that provides trip data and diagnostics. An additional seven-inch touchscreen, with navigation and rear-facing backup camera, is optional.

Designed and Built in North America

The Volvo VNL series was designed and engineered at Volvo Trucks' North American technology center in Greensboro, North Carolina and will be built at the manufacturer's New River Valley assembly plant in Dublin, Virginia, where all Volvo models for the US are assembled. Volvo engines and transmissions powering each VNL model will be produced at Volvo's powertrain manufacturing facility in Hagerstown, Maryland.

Volvo unveiled its new truck in unique fashion. Volvo just set a Guinness World Record for world's largest unboxing. Three-year-old truck fan Joel Jovine was asked to help Volvo open up this 80-foot by 14-foot by 18-foot box. Inside the box as Volvo's new VNL long haul truck.


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