As the industry hype over autonomous vehicles moves into the realms of reality, or what’s really possible in the near term, one area where it could really have great immediate impact is in the freight industry. Recognizing this, Volvo Group and Nvidia have partnered to use the latter’s artificial intelligence (AI) platform to deploy autonomous trucks.

Volvo Group announced this week it is using Nvidia’s Drive end-to-end autonomous driving platform to train, test and deploy self-driving AI vehicles, targeting public transport, freight transport, refuse and recycling collection, construction, mining and forestry.

They will co-locate engineering teams in Gothenburg and Silicon Valley to build on the Drive AGX Pegasus platform for in-vehicle AI computing and utilize the full Drive AV software stack for 360-degree sensor processing, perception, map localization and path planning. They will also test and validate these systems using the Nvidia Drive hardware-in-the-loop simulation platform.

Volvo NVIDIA

Jensen Huang, Nvidia founder and CEO with Martin Lundstedt, president and CEO of the Volvo Group. (Image: Nvidia)

Jensen Huang, Nvidia founder and CEO, said the Volvo Group partnership was a landmark for the future of transportation. Together with Volvo Group CEO Martin Lundstedt, they said AV technology applied to an entire lineup of trucks operating around the world can bring enormous benefits for industries ranging from public and freight transport to forestry and construction, to become more efficient, with vehicles that can work longer and travel farther.

Online shopping and transport

Autonomous trucks address the demands of today’s online shopping, which put huge stress on transport systems — especially with expectations for overnight or same-day deliveries. More than 35 million packages worldwide are delivered each day, and this is growing up to 28% percent annually. By 2040, delivery services will have to travel another 78 billion miles each year to handle goods ordered online, according to consultancy firm KPMG.

Autonomous trucks can potentially help meet this demand. They can operate 24 hours a day, improving delivery times, and with increased efficiency, can bring down the annual cost of logistics in the U.S. by 45% — between $85 billion and $125 billion, according to experts at McKinsey.

From automating short, routine trips like the loading and unloading of containers on cargo ships and managing port operations, to autonomously driving on the highway, Volvo’s new generation of vehicles could help streamline the shipping industry. By using the Nvidia Drive solutions within the second-largest truck maker globally, Nvidia and Volvo Group say they can bring the efficiencies of autonomous trucking to the transport industry.

Volvo Group will be utilizing Nvidia Drive Constellation to test and validate AVs, ensuring they can handle diverse operating challenges all over the world. By utilizing hardware-in-the-loop simulation, the companies can test the autonomous driving systems on the same hardware and software that will run in the vehicle, at a significantly greater scale.