AI hits the road

It’s hard to find a more popular buzzword than Artificial Intelligence, AI, these days. This field of technology has simply exploded in the last few years and the automotive industry is driving progress. Self-driving vehicles are not science fiction anymore and they require the most advanced AI available.

AI is defined as the ability of a computer program or machine to think, learn and make decisions, in other words mimic human cognition. The term was coined as early as the mid-fifties, but its development has gained enormous momentum in the past few years. One important reason for this is the rapid advancement of autonomous vehicles.

Henrik Kaijser is Technology Specialist in AI and Machine Learning at the Volvo Group. He works with developing AI for autonomous trucks at CampX. He is also very active in the cooperation with Nvidia, Volvo’s partner, which has developed a cutting-edge platform for AI in autonomous vehicles.

It’s extremely interesting and challenging to develop autonomous vehicles. I’m convinced that autonomous vehicles will increase safety on our roads.

Volvo is currently working to put three autonomous solutions on the market in the near future.  

The flagship is called Vera, a cab-less, electric vehicle with a very futuristic look. Vera is designed for regular and repetitive tasks at low speed over short distances, where large volumes of goods need to be delivered with high precision, such as in ports, factory areas and logistics centers.

Volvo is also developing highway applications, where trucks operate between two hubs. These trucks look more like regular vehicles and they are faster than Vera.

The third solution is being applied in a project in Norway. Six autonomous Volvo FH trucks will transport limestone on a five-kilometer stretch, partly through tunnels, between the mine and the crusher. The customer, Brønnøy Kalk AS, is buying the transport solution between the two hubs, and not the trucks themselves – a business model that is likely to become more common in the future.

AI is currently used for perception, that is, for letting the vehicle ‘see’ its environment and, for instance where the other vehicles and pedestrians are or if there are potholes or garbage on the road. In the future, AI will be used for many more purposes. "AI will help us navigate through the traffic, predict what other road users are about to do and much more,” says Henrik Kaijser.

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