There’s a new player in the autonomous trucking game, and it’s coming out of the gate with some big claims.
Swedish transportation company Einride announced its global launch with news that it’s working to establish the world’s first totally emission-free road transportation system. Their aim: To knock out the current semi truck-based supply chain.
Einride’s emission-free model is based on an entirely new vehicle class, which it calls the “T-pod,” a fully electric self-driving vehicle that can also be controlled by remote drivers.
The “T-pod” is around seven meters (23 feet) long, with a cargo capacity of about 15 standard pallets and a weight of 20 tons when carrying a full load.
Einride said it should be able to travel 200 km (124 miles) on one charge, which doesn’t sound like much — but the company thinks the system’s efficiency and low demand for operators will make up for the loss of range.
Einride says it will begin T-pod routes between Gothenburg and Helsingborg in Sweden with a capacity of 2,000,000 pallets per year. But there’s no set date for the service to begin — there’s not even an IRL prototype of the T-pod just yet, let alone any demonstrated self-driving systems.
Testing for that will begin later this year, along with the development of everything else Einride will need for a game-changing electric transportation network, like charging stations and other infrastructure.
The company hopes to have an active fleet of 200 vehicles by 2020, yet without anything but undisclosed agreements with anonymous partners and clients, a flashy hype video, and a rendering, it’s not sure exactly how realistic achieving that goal might be.
Other self-driving truck projects, which depend on harnessing new-age autonomous systems on the old-school semis, have already demonstrated pilot programs out on the open road. Otto, Embark, and Nvidia’s PACCAR collaboration are all further along the self-driving road than Einride — and none of them are proposing the massive paradigm shift the Swedish company has planned.
Until Einride can back up its plans, it’ll just be another cool concept for a greener future. We’ll have to actually see a T-pod in action to believe the hype.