Einride's T-pod L4 Driverless Trucks Hit Public Roads in Sweden
Einride is entering a new phase it development, as it deploys self-driving trucks in Sweden. The service is part of the startup's ongoing collaboration with German logistics group DB Schenker. Both businesses have been working together on launching driverless vehicles since 2018.
Swedish transport authorities approved Einride's deployment plans through the issuance of a public road permit. Based on the details of the permit, the startup's autonomous trucks are allowed to travel from a warehouse to a terminal. The short route includes roads within an industrial hub in Jonkoping, Sweden. During operation, the self-driving trucks can travel up to 3.1 mph (5 km/hr).
Public Road Permit
The company's public road permit comes with several guidelines. Swedish regulators require one worker to oversee a single autonomous truck per trip. The individual tasked with managing the vehicle is equipped with a joystick for intervention during emergencies or disengagement. In addition to DB Schenker, the startup is in the process of fulfilling orders from German grocery chain Lidl. Einride is also working with five Fortune 500 companies in the retail sector.
"This public road permit is a major milestone ... and it is a step to commercializing autonomous technology on roads," explained Robert Falck, CEO of the startup.
"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."
Einride expressed intentions to expand its services to the US. Falck mentioned that such activities will involve applying for more public road permits. By the end of 2020, the startup wants to have 200 autonomous trucks operating on public roadways.
A Closer Look at the T-pod and T-log
The T-pod is a boxy electric truck with L4 autonomous driving features. Without a driver's cabin, the vehicle can save up to 60 percent in operating costs, compared to traditional diesel trucks, and increase loading capacity. Each driverless truck can hold up to 15 Euro-size pallets, which are slightly smaller than the North America standard. A 200kWh power cell offers roughly 125 miles per full charge.
The battery-powered unit's external system includes the following components: radar, LIDAR, cameras and computer (NVIDIA DRIVE platform). Full, 360-degree coverage ensures there are no blind spots that could compromise safety on public roads. As highlighted earlier, the trucks can be controlled by a remote human operator. A single operator could supervise as many as 10 autonomous vehicles simultaneously (if needed).
Einride's T-log is a heavy-duty version of the T-pod. Equipped with a larger battery, the autonomous truck utilizes smart routing software to optimize trips and avoid congestion on roads. The unit incorporates a sleek, open design that enables it to carry logs and other long or odd-size raw materials.
"Autonomous trucks will become increasingly important for the logistics sector. Together with Einride, we are now able to introduce autonomous, fully electric trucks to a continuous flow on a public road – a milestone in the transition to the transport system of tomorrow," said Jochen Thewes, CEO of DB Schenker.
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