In the latest shots in  the autonomous vehicle arms race Scania has revealed what it is claiming is another milestone in the development of self-driving heavy vehicles, a group of its experts in varying fields have teamed up to develop a concept truck, which at the heart of its design uses the company’s modular system even though it doesn’t have a cab or anywhere for a driver to ride in it. 

As you can see from the video the truck can operate quite free of any human input into the controls.

Scania says that as different industries look to streamline transport assignments and make them more sustainable, self-driving vehicles will increasingly be considered. Mines and large closed construction sites are examples says Scania, of environments that are favourable for self-driving pilots since they are well-controlled locations. 

“With the Scania AXL concept truck, we are taking a significant step towards the smart transport systems of the future, where self-driving vehicles will play a natural part,” says Scania’s President and CEO Henrik Henriksson. “We continue to build and pilot concepts to demonstrate what we can do with the technology that is available today.” 

For autonomous vehicles, software is in many ways more important than hardware. Scania AXL is steered and monitored by an intelligent control environment. In mines, for example, the autonomous operations are facilitated by a logistics system that tells the vehicle how it should perform. 

“We already have self-driving trucks in customer operations. However so far, they have been with room for a safety driver who can intervene if necessary. Scania AXL does not have a cab and that changes the game significantly,” says Claes Erixon, Head of Research and Development at Scania. 

“The development in self-driving vehicles has made great strides in the past years. We still don’t have all the answers, but through concept vehicles like Scania AXL we break new ground and continue to learn at great speed.” 

The combustion engine that powers the concept vehicle is an example of how traditional and new technology is mixed. It is advantageously powered by renewable biofuel. 

The robust and powerful features and design behind Scania AXL match the tougher environments in mines and large construction sites. A new intelligent front module replaces the traditional cab, but even without a cab the concept is easily recognisable as a Scania. 

The first live demo of Scania AXL will take place at TRATON GROUP’s Innovation Day, October 2, at Scania’s demo centre in Södertälje.

Meantime Scania has also announced it has launched into a brave new world by creating a virtual space where its own experts and visionaries will meet and exchange ideas regarding trends and visions with external voices like researchers, futurists and videographers and writers. 

Scania says that together they will draw a picture of what the future may bring and is calling the home for this creativity  ‘The Future Room’. 

Scania says it wants to share more of its vision of what the shift to a sustainable transport system could look like, and It points to a bright future, and highlights the role companies can take in positively impacting the global agenda. It also focuses on the power of technology and innovation by the introduction of progressive concepts, pilots and ideas. 

“We want to make more people curious about Scania. Both to get those who already know us to see different sides of us, but also to trigger a future-driven audience that doesn’t necessarily yet know they should pay attention to us,” says Erik Ljungberg, head of communications, brand and marketing at Scania. 

“The most valuable asset we as a company have, is our employees, our talent, and the Future Room is a space for them, just as much as for people outside the company.” 

Staying in the forefront during large technology shifts, exploring new business models and managing the speed of change present challenges and great opportunities for Scania, the ecosystem of transport and logistics, and society at large. 

“We have a legacy and a culture that are strong. We build on that as we look to the future and tap into new competence and partnerships in areas like autonomous vehicles, connectivity and electrification. This also calls for a communications approach that draws new stakeholders closer to the company,” says Erik Ljungberg.