Truck importer Iveco Australia has announced that  it will assist toll road operator, Transurban, and Silicon Valley-based autonomous driving software company, Plus, to explore how its Iveco S-Way trucks can be integrated with Plus’s Level 4 autonomous driving technology combined with smart road infrastructure, which could help make trucking safer, more efficient, and more sustainable in Australia.

The company says that the partnership builds on its partnership with Plus to develop highly automated trucking solutions for Europe.

Two of Iveco’s latest S-Way AS 550 prime movers are being factory fitted with Plus’s latest autonomous driving technologies and integrated with smart motorway infrastructure to enhance the perception and awareness capabilities of the autonomous trucks. The trucks will have capacity to carry up to 43 tonnes.

With road freight projected to grow in the coming decades, self-driving trucks operating during off-peak periods have the potential to transform the freight industry by moving more goods, more quickly, and more sustainably. It is anticipated that this will also deliver positive economic and social outcomes for consumers, motorists and governments by reducing congestion and improving road safety.

Transurban is a global operator of motorways across Australia and North America, and this partnership, according to Iveco, leverages the benefits of smart road infrastructure and operations to complement truck technologies being developed by Iveco and Plus.

Iveco tells us that the Plus software uses advanced generative AI, machine learning, computer vision, and other state-of-the-art algorithms to empower vehicles with superhuman awareness and control

Plus’s system, equipped with advanced lidar (light detection and ranging), radar and camera sensors, along with its autonomous driving software can detect and precisely track objects, predict their movement, and then safely manoeuvre the vehicle. Additional features and capabilities are continuously added to the system through over-the-air updates according to Iveco.

The software builds on the Iveco S-Way’s suite of standard driver aids including Advanced Emergency Braking System, Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Departure Warning System.

The parties are seeking to understand the long-term opportunities for autonomous trucking to move freight, and the broad benefits this may deliver for transportation and our cities, which may include reduced congestion, improved road safety and traffic flow, and the more efficient and sustainable movement of freight.

In commenting on the project, head of Iveco ANZ, Michael May, said the company was excited to be chosen as the commercial vehicle partner for the ground-breaking activity.

“Iveco has a long history of innovation and has been at the forefront of the commercial vehicle industry for many years, particularly where new technologies and sustainability are concerned,” May said.

“Based in Melbourne, the Iveco Customer Innovation Centre is very excited to begin this collaborative project and support the next steps in creating sustainable and efficient ecosystems of freight movement. To be partnering with industry leaders like Transurban and Plus on this project is certainly exciting and we look forward to playing a role in contributing to the evolution of the road transport industry on its search for greater efficiency, safety and sustainability,” he said.

On-road pilot testing activity is expected to commence in early 2024.