How Volvo Autonomous Solutions is working to make autonomous driving a realityadmin
Based at Volvo’s Camp X innovation hub in Gothenburg, Sweden, the 51-year-old Jaeger took up his role in the newly formed Volvo Autonomous Solutions on January 1st, 2020. Previously spending 17 years of his career in the agricultural equipment sector, he is no stranger to automated systems. He witnessed first hand the arrival of autonomous steering systems for tractors and harvesting machines, tech that is now embedded in the sector.
“I’m absolutely convinced that autonomous solutions are beneficial to society,” he says. “This new industry will provide a lot of value – safety, efficiency, flexibility, sustainability and economic. It is impossible to stop progress – this technology is going to happen – and I firmly believe that it will be a force for good. In fact, if we had been further ahead in our development the impact of COVID-19 would have been less.”
When challenged on fears of autonomous machines taking human operator jobs, Jaeger says: “There are already shortages of drivers in many markets, and human operators will continue to be in demand for many years to come,” says Jaeger. “Far from being a threat, autonomous vehicles will be complimentary, doing jobs more safely than humans can, such as very long distance highway driving, or removing humans from worksite applications in hazardous areas, such as blast furnaces, unstable demolition sites or underground mines. As with the creation of the car or the computer, this technology will for sure be a creator of many new jobs.”
What about the fear that some people have about driverless vehicles being let loose on highways and work sites? “Fear is never a good advisor, so as an industry we need to come together and address those concerns,” says Jaeger. “Not only must autonomous solutions be safe, we must demonstrate it unequivocally to reassure the public. That’s not just product safety, but also protection against cybercrime interference, which we are also working hard on preventing. The irony here is that one of the biggest benefits of this technology is that it will improve safety and reduce harm. There is already a healthy debate going on, and we need to be better at spelling out that key benefit.”
Autonomous vehicles offer more than a like-for-like switch with human operated machines, but rather whole new business models and customer relationships. ‘Transport as a service’ is a growing trend, and tailoring fleets of machines to suit customers’ individual needs is a key element of Volvo Autonomous Solutions’ remit. “We see ourselves as an integrator of emerging technologies to create solutions, bundling hardware and software, and then if necessary, operating it on behalf of the customer,” says Jaeger.