Tesla received mass adulation when it revealed its pure-electric Semi truck in 2017 – which it has yet to produce. Meanwhile, a Swedish startup called Einride has actually put an all-electric driverless truck in service on public roads in Sweden.
- Swedish manufacturer Einride, has put an electric autonomous truck into service on public roads.
- Named the T-Pod, the Level-4 autonomous truck could reduce shipping costs by 60% in the near future.
- The T-Pod has no cockpit for a drive and if it needs human intervention, it is done by remote.
- Einride’s testing program is currently taking place in one Swedish town and can not exceed 3 mph, but the tech is in its earliest stage and will surely advance.
The super futuristic-looking truck is called T-Pod. When fully loaded, it weighs as much as 26 tons. If you’re trying to spot the driver’s cab and windshield, you can just give up now. T-Pod doesn’t have either.
As a Level 4 autonomous truck, T-Pod was never designed to accommodate a driver. Instead, if it is in need of human assistance, a remote operator taps into the car virtually and aids the truck as needed. This person can monitor and control as many as 10 T-Pods at once.
Thanks to its pure-electric powertrain (as opposed to a diesel engine) and lack of human driver, Einride estimates T-Pod could reduce trucking costs by as much as 60%.
Although T-Pod is permitted to make runs on public roads between a warehouse and a terminal in the central Swedish town of Jonkoping, it is not allowed to exceed 3 miles per hour — yes, just 3 mph. Clearly, even the liberal Swedish lawmakers weren’t willing to take much of a risk with this self-driving behemoth.
T-Pod’s driving tech, however, hinges on 5G cell signals. Without a robust system in place, Einride had to construct two 5G towers just to enable T-Pod’s limited test pilot rollout.
Despite the lagging 5G infrastructure, Einride hopes to have as many as 200 vehicles operating by the end of 2020. What’s more, it aims to expand to the U.S. next year.
“Ground zero for autonomous vehicles is the United States. I think it will be the first market to scale when it comes to autonomous vehicles,” Einride CEO Robert Falck told Reuters.