SINGAPORE (July 23): On an overcast summer’s day, in the outskirts of Gothenburg, the port city on the southwestern coast of Sweden, three trailer trucks are lined up along a wide, oval track. On signal, they start off in unison, one close behind the other. After a while, the drivers in the second and third trucks pick up their radios to talk to each other, gesturing; their hands are completely off the steering wheel.

These trucks, equipped with autonomous driving technology, are part of vehicle manufacturer Volvo’s trials that have been running since September 2016. The company, best known for its focus on safety and the hardy construction of its vehicles, has had its trucks put to the test in various sectors, including mining, agriculture and even in garbage collection. A self-driving truck was deployed around the clock in an underground mineral mine in Kristineberg, north of Stockholm. The company has also partnered with an industrial farmer in Brazil, piloting an autonomous truck for sugarcane harvesting that cuts crop damage.

Importantly, the trucks have so far been deployed only in industrial or commercial, and completely controlled, environments. And, for Volvo, there are still numerous variables to figure out — inclement weather, for instance. 

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