Volvo Autonomous Solutions Opens Fort Worth Office for Self-Driving Trucking Runs to El Paso and Houston

Volvo's Fort Worth office will set up the first V.A.S. autonomous freight corridors from Dallas-Fort Worth to El Paso and from Dallas to Houston. The company has already begun manual test runs with partners including Uber Freight and DHL.

Dallas-Fort Worth’s status as a key testing ground for self-driving trucks just got more momentum. Sweden-based Volvo Autonomous Solutions today announced the opening of a Fort Worth office and has already begun operating manual test runs from it, in preparation for “commercial autonomous hub-to-hub transport.”

The Fort Worth office is dedicated to driving activities to set up V.A.S.’ first autonomous freight corridors, which will run from Dallas-Fort Worth to El Paso and from Dallas to Houston.

To prepare for its commercial launch, V.A.S. says it has started hauling loads with trucks using drivers for key customers including DHL and Uber Freight. These runs are intended to test aspects of the transport solution and establish frameworks and procedures for safe and reliable operations.

Volvo’s on-highway truck offering has entered the autonomous sphere through its partnership with Pittsburgh-based Aurora Innovation, with the Aurora Driver system being integrated on Volvo’s trucks. 

Volvo aims to help ‘change the way we move goods on highways’

Volvo Autonomous Solutions is partnering with Uber Freight and DHL in its initial manual test trucking runs from Dallas-Fort Worth. [Photo: V.A.S.]

“With the opening of our office in Texas and start of operational activities, we’re building the foundations for a transport solution that will change the way we move goods on highways,” Nils Jaeger, president of Volvo Autonomous Solutions, said in a statement.

“At Volvo Autonomous Solutions we believe the path to autonomy at scale is through reducing the friction and complications around ownership and operations for customers,” Jaeger added. “This is why we’ve taken the decision to be the single interface to our customers and take full ownership of the elements required for commercial autonomous transport.”

“Lanes” from DFW to El Paso and Houston are already well-traveled by self-driving trucks 

The DFW-to-El Paso-and-Houston “lanes” have already been well traveled by self-driving trucking operations from Aurora Innovation and its partners including FedEx, Uber Freight, Werner, and Schneider. In addition, Mountain View, California-based Kodiak Robotics has launched autonomous freight service from Dallas to Atlanta with partners including U.S. Xpress and Forward Air Corporation. (Both Aurora and Kodiak do their autonomous runs with a safety driver in the cab. Aurora is aiming for a goal of totally human-free freight runs between Dallas and Houston by late 2024.)

Meanwhile, Mountain View-based Gatik—an autonomous middle-mile trucking company—has operated short-haul trucking runs in Dallas-Fort Worth for Kroger, Pitney Bowes, and deliveries to 34 DFW Sam’s Club locations. 

‘Operating all hours of the day and night’

Sasko Cuklev, head of on-road solutions for V.A.S, says Volvo’s ambition is “to create a new source of industry capacity that will ease some of the burden of the increasing demand for freight while also enabling local drivers to shift into short-haul jobs that will keep them closer to home.”

“This will unlock significant efficiencies in the entire supply chain and benefit everyone in the transportation industry,” Cuklev added in a statement.

Part of the Volvo Group, V.A.S. is offering autonomous transport solutions that include the hardware, software, and services required to run autonomous transport operations. On highways, Volvo’s solution “is operated based on a hub-to-hub model where autonomous trucks take on the highway portion of the driving, operating all hours of the day and night between transfer hubs while human drivers complete local operations,” the company said.

DHL and Uber Freight are part of the V.A.S. key customer program, which is aimed at shippers, carriers, logistics service providers and freight brokers whom V.A.S. will work with to pilot and commercialize autonomous transport solutions.

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R E A D   N E X T

  • Starting in May, Gatik's autonomous 20-foot box trucks will begin rolling goods from Kroger's Dallas distribution center to Kroger grocery stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Initially, they'll be operated with a safety driver in the cab, Gatik says.

  • The Dallas-based marine tech startup will take preorders in 2023 and set sail with production boats in 2024. Warbird Holdings CEO John Dorton—a veteran in both boat building and leadership—is joining the startup’s board to help AllOY make waves in the $57 billion recreational boat market.  AllOY emerged from stealth this summer to bring electric power and autonomous tech to boating.

  • Mountain View, California-based Kodiak Robotics—which announced an earlier partnership last May with U.S. Xpress to launch autonomous freight service between Dallas and Atlanta—today announced it has teamed up with Forward Air Corporation to roll freight between the same two cities. Through the agreement, Kodiak and Forward say they're "operating autonomous freight service 24 hours per day, six days per week between Dallas and Atlanta, making three round trips weekly."

  • Waymo's new hub—built from the ground up—is a $10 million investment in Lancaster that will bring "hundreds of jobs" to the community, a Waymo exec announced at its opening last week. "This operation and Waymo's investment in the region further cements Dallas-Fort Worth as the home to autonomous vehicles in the U.S.," added Duane Dankesreiter, SVP for research and innovation at the Dallas Regional Chamber.

  • Ameriflight—the nation's largest Part 135 Cargo airline—announced signing a letter of intent to purchase 35 VTOL air cargo drones from California's Sabrewing Aircraft Company. Just last month, Ameriflight signed with Natilus on the purchase of 20 autonomous Kona aircraft, which can carry payloads up to 3.8 tons without a crew.