Scania wins approval to expand route tests of autonomous trucks

In News, Scania3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJune 3, 2022

Scania self-driving transport vehicles will now be able to operate on all categories of roads between the Swedish cities of Södertälje and Jönköping.

The Swedish Transport Agency Transportstyrelsen has given Scania approval to expand the route and range of its autonomous vehicle testing on the nation’s roads.

In February last year, Scania was given permission to begin operating three autonomous trucks on a stretch of the E4 highway between the company’s main production site in Södertälje and Nyköping, which lies 70km to the south.

The success of that trial has now led to an expansion of the distance and parameters of the tests. The autonomous trucks will be able to drive on all types of roads – local and national – between Södertälje and the southern city of Jönköping, which is nearly 300km and three-and-a-half hours away.

“It’s great to have the transport authority’s backing for the three autonomous trucks to drive Scania goods on all categories of roads between Södertälje and Jönköping. The legislation is helping, not hindering us, and this is a big step forward for us and our work with this technology,” said Peter Hafmar, vice-president and head of autonomous solutions.

“It means our vehicles can go completely autonomously from the gates of Scania to the end destination. We have someone sitting at the wheel monitoring the system during this testing, but the vehicles are driving by themselves. They’re out there in busy local traffic and then on the highway at 80kph down to Jönköping, where they can then navigate the roundabouts and local roads, before arriving by themselves at the destination where we deliver the goods.”

Hafmar said the data being collected from the current Swedish tests will enable Scania to develop the machine learning to handle the widest possible range of scenarios that can face autonomous vehicles. He expects more prototypes and more tests in other parts of Europe to follow in due course, in a slow and steady expansion phase.

While Hafmar expects that autonomous technology will not become industrialised until the end of the 2020s, he believes that the momentum is unstoppable.

“The technology is getting really close now, and, just as with the opposition to combustion engines at the start of the twentieth century, the obstacles are steadily being removed,” he said.

“We need to be ready for this change, which will complement the other sustainable developments in the transport industry. That’s why we’re investing in it now.”