New contender in autonomous vehicle race

A new autonomous vehicle start-up has launched in Sweden this week, revealing a remotely controlled, all-electric 'T-pod' rigid that is meant to shuttle between the Swedish cities of Gothenburg and Helsingborg.

Unlike previous autonomous vehicle concepts revealed by Uber, Volvo, Tesla and FAW Jiefang, Einride’s T-pod has been designed from the ground up to operate without a driver as part of a broader transport system, and has no cab space.

Instead, the T-pod is controlled remotely from a centralised office, theoretically allowing one person to manage several units at once – much like the concept brought into play by US start-up Starsky Robotics at the beginning of the year.

According to Einride, each T-pod is seven metres long, allowing it to carry 15 pallets over a distance of 200km per charge.

At the launch, the company announced that T-pods will start running between Gothenburg and Helsingborg in the south of Sweden as part of an autonomous shuttle service with a capacity of 2,000,000 pallets per year – pointing out that the point of difference is not so much the truck itself, but the logistics framwork behind it.

“Einride is transforming the existing transport chain from the ground up,” said Einride COO, Filip Lilja – revealing that the company’s focus is very much on environmental friendliness.

“The big companies behind long haul trucks keep building bigger trucks to increase efficiency, which ultimately means even more emissions, alongside safety and efficiency.

“We are changing that by creating a secure solution that is not only cost-effective, but dramatically minimises the negative environmental impact of the transportation industry.”

“Our vision is to enhance the lives of all people through the delivery of a global, impact-positive supply chain infrastructure,” added Robert Falck, CEO of Einride.

“We don’t believe our work is done when we’ve achieved carbon neutrality. Our design process is driven by our goal to have a net positive impact – whether that’s improving the lives of transport workers or reducing road traffic accidents, every element of our system aims to have a measurable positive impact on the planet.”

Einride has publicised a set goal for an active fleet of 200 T-pods by 2020, yet without specifying a timeline for testing and sales.