The T-Pod, which weighs 26 tonnes when fully loaded, does not have a driver in the cabin.
It is being tested out by developer Einride and logistics company DB Schenker. Swedish start-up Einride estimate that it will reduce road freight operating costs by about 60 per cent compared to a diesel truck with a driver.
The T-Pod will not be completely autonomous, as an operator sitting miles away will be able to supervise and control up to 10 vehicles at a time.
Having a permit to use the semi-autonomous lorry on public roads to make deliveries was a “major milestone”, said Einride’s chief executive Robert Falck.
“It is a step to commercialising autonomous technology on roads,” he added. “Since we’re a software and operational first company, a partnership with a manufacturing company is something that we see as a core moving forward.”
His company hopes to have 200 vehicles in operation by the end of 2020.
Besides Schenker, the company also has orders from German supermarket chain Lidl, Swedish delivery company Svenska Retursystem and five Fortune 500 retail companies.
The T-Pod has permission to make short trips between a warehouse and a terminal on a public road in an industrial area in Jonkoping, central Sweden, at up to 5km/hr (3mph).
Mr Falck said Einride would apply for more public route permits next year and was planning to expand in the United States.
“Ground zero for autonomous vehicles is the United States,” he added. “I think it will be the first market to scale when it comes to autonomous vehicles.”