As companies like Waymo, General Motors, and Uber continue their push to release fleets of autonomous cars, a Swedish startup called Einride is seeking to transform freight transport with its cab-less self-driving truck.
The innovative vehicle is called a T-Pod. Einride designed it to fulfill the company’s mission to make “the movement of goods more intelligent: emission-free, safe, cost-effective, and ultimately, sustainable.”
Together with global logistics provider DB Schenker, the firm partners with multiple forward-thinking organizations that share a common goal to build an autonomous, sustainable transportation system.
President Robert Falck co-founded Einride in 2016, along with VP of Strategic Projects Filip Lilja, and CMO Linnea Kornehed.
In April 2018, the Stockholm-based automotive tech developer teamed with DB Schenker to achieve its self-driving goals. Headquartered in Germany, the logistics giant operates about 2,000 locations in 140 countries.
The innovative companies joined forces to develop and implement technology that would revolutionize the transportation industry. Producing T-Pod was the first major step toward realizing their vision.
What is a T-Pod?
Autonomous vehicle technology has taken many different forms over the past few years. From TransPod’s impending hyperloop system to the Bell Nexus air taxi and beyond, many different companies continue to join the self-driving race.
So, what is a T-Pod? Simply put, a T-Pod is a fully electric, self-driving truck. The futuristic freight and cargo hauler has two distinct missing features. First, it lacks a place for a driver to sit and second, it doesn’t have any windows.
Unlike its toxin-producing, diesel-powered semi-truck counterparts, the vehicle is notably emission-free.
“Global warming is the great challenge of our generation – CO2 emissions are threatening the future of mankind. Road freight transport is the source of 5 to 7 percent of global CO2 emissions, and the industry is not showing any signs of changing,” said Nicholas Rundbom, Einride communications director in a Freight Waves interview. “By rethinking road freight from scratch, Einride has developed a solution that has the potential to revolutionize transport by being both cost competitive and sustainable.”
How it Works
A T-Pod is capable of SAE level four self-driving. As such, it can operate autonomously, or via remote control by a human operator.
The “brain” powering T-Pod’s self-driving operation is the Nvidia Drive AI platform. Furthermore, the electric cargo transporter can travel up to 124 miles using intelligent environment sensing and route planning.
Equipped with cameras, radars, and lidar 3D scanners, the T-Pod has 360-degree awareness of its surroundings. Therefore, dangerous blind spots or dead angles are not an issue.
Plus, the vehicle can identify the most efficient route from point A to point B via a connected, intelligent operating system that integrates customer data, traffic data, and more. The truck automatically adjusts its course to avoid congestion, maximize battery use, and more.
This groundbreaking transportation technology has many benefits. First, the cab-less truck is smaller than a traditional semi, which makes more room for cargo. Next, a driverless system eliminates risks and dangers associated with driver error or falling asleep at the wheel.
Finally, operating costs are lower, energy usage is optimized, and the battery-operated T-Pod is noise-free.
Past and Present Milestones
Shortly after joining forces, Einride and DB Schenker premiered the installation for T-Pod’s first commercial use. Last November, the innovative vehicle began traveling to and from a warehouse at a DB Schenker facility in Jönköping, Sweden.
On May 15, 2019, the business partners made history when the T-Pod drove on a public road for the first time. Once again, the landmark event took place at DB Schenker’s Jönköping location.
“This day represents a major milestone in Einride’s history, and for our movement to create a safe, efficient and sustainable transport solution, based on autonomous, electric vehicles, that has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions from road freight transport by up to 90 percent. I can’t begin to describe how proud I am of our team that made this happen in collaboration with our great partner and customer DB Schenker,” said Falck, in a press release.
Overall, reaching this milestone has paved the way for road freight transportation to head toward a sustainable future. The company reportedly plans to have 200 vehicles operating commercially by the end of 2020.