Volvo Trucks has unveiled Vera, an autonomous, fully electric vehicle that could integrate into more complex logistics systems. Designed by Volvo Trucks' design studio in Gothenburg, Vera is focused on customers' need for a constant and repetitive transportation flow between A and B, rather than on the vehicle itself. A major inspiration for this holistic approach was the ecosystem, and the aim was to create a constant process throughout both day and night, thereby increasing productivity.
"An important value for us when we created Vera was simplicity. This is a transport solution made by people for people. Even if Vera does not have a driver, it will interact with people in its environment, and was developed to facilitate more effective logistics systems. So one can say that the person we've designed it for is actually all of society," explained Ismail Ovacik, Chief Designer Exterior at Volvo Trucks. "We wanted to create something that would set the standard for cab-less vehicles."
The design team looked far and wide for inspiration, including a lot of futuristic films, such as Oblivion, and carefully inspected items connected to automation and electrification. "Even though there isn't a direct connection with any other object, part of being a designer is to gather as many impressions for inspiration as possible," added Ovacik. "We've looked at a lot of hi-tech products like phones, tablets and speakers, and they inspired us in how they integrated the technology. A lot of graphics were actually inspired by the circuit boards. You can find a lot of connection with the warmth of the colors we've chosen in everyday products that people use, like furniture."
Although Ismail and his colleagues worked without any frames of reference, there were a few things they needed to consider, such as legal requirements and technical components that had to be integrated into the design. One of their challenges was that all the technology took up so much space, and that everything from the batteries to the small and large components, wiring and other technologies needed to be hidden inside the shell. Getting the right proportions was something he discussed a lot with his team. Later on, many discussions were also about which design elements to highlight.
"When I look back it is clear that many of our earlier sketches were very sporty compared to the end result," Ovacik said. "It was important for us to find the right balance, so that Vera looked like a transport vehicle rather than a formula one racing car, a lawnmower, a robotic vacuum cleaner or a remote-controlled car in an amusement park. Altogether we did several hundred sketches, both on paper and on computer, before we got all the details the way we wanted them.
"In my eyes, Vera has an honest, clean and functional design that gives an expression of trust and reliability. I feel that we successfully gave it a personality and human expression while bringing out its technical and futuristic elements. The purpose of Vera is to visualise our system for automated transportation, and I feel we have been successful with our assignment."
Photos: Courtesy of Volvo Trucks