Swedish technology and autonomous vehicle company Einride is officially operating in the U.S. and has launched a line of products designed for the U.S. market in conjunction with the announcement.
Known for the driverless Einride Pod — a cabless box on wheels — the company is adapting the model for the U.S. market through its new range of global products including the Einride Saga operator system. The U.S. will see a local version of the Pod as well as a Flatbed Pod.
In addition, Einride announced it had set up a U.S. headquarters in New York, where part of the executive leadership team will be based. It will also open regional offices in Austin, Texas, as well as San Francisco and the Southeast. In all, it expects to create at least 2,000 U.S. jobs within the next five years.
The company made the announcements Wednesday morning.
“It is such a great challenge and I’m really excited,” Robert Falck, founder and CEO of Einride, told FreightWaves. “This U.S. freight transportation community is the most competitive in the world.”
The U.S. version of the Pod will feature the same SAE Level 4 self-driving technology and safety architecture as its older European sibling but has been adapted to better handle U.S. roads and conditions. Falck said the primary changes are technical in nature to meet U.S. braking and other technical requirements. The Flatbed Pod is similar, but its body type can handle a variety of cargo configurations, including shipping containers.
Testing of the Einride Pod began in 2019 in Europe, and Falck said the company hopes to have almost 500 units in testing by the end of next year.
Einride is now working with global companies Ericsson and Siemens as well as customers Oatly, Bridgestone and GE Appliances. The GE partnership was announced last week.
“At GE Appliances, we believe in always finding a better way and striving to be on the forefront of innovation,” said Bill Good, vice president of manufacturing at GE Appliances. “Sustainability and cost efficiency is a prerequisite for implementing innovation into our business strategy. The partnership and technology investment with Einride is allowing us to deploy safer, more sustainable and cost-effective solutions for the movement and transportation of material.”
Falck said the GE application is a perfect use case and a great way to get valuable information on the system.
“These big clients and several others see the potential in that, and for us we are very honored to be working with traditional and very great companies here in the U.S.,” he said.
The GE pilot features 20 units transporting goods around GE’s 750-acre Appliance Park campus in Louisville, Kentucky. Einride will also operate at GE facilities in Tennessee and Georgia.
Read: Einride’s driverless, cabless electric trucks hit the mass market
Read: Cabless pod developer Einride raises $110M from new and existing investors
In Europe, Einride is moving goods autonomously for Coca-Cola, SKF and Lidl. Since Oct. 1, 2020, Einride’s partners have seen a 90% decrease in carbon dioxide emissions with electrical transport, while matching the cost of diesel, the company said.
Einride’s Pods are designed to operate autonomously, but Falck said remote operators will monitor and help the vehicles navigate as needed. He said the ideal operation is 95% fully autonomous. The remote operator represents an ideal job, Falck said. The operator will provide the “decision making” and when added to the power of autonomous, he believes “you have the best of both worlds.”
The entire system is designed to recognize when human intervention is needed and put itself in a safe environment until that help arrives.
“That’s the only feasible way to get the benefit of autonomous without there being a safety driver in the vehicle itself,” Falck said.
Einride Saga will enable shippers to access a road map to cost-competitive electrification and automation via the Evolve app, order and track shipments via Book, oversee routes and assignment through Orchestrate, and visualize data and gain insights through Explore. The company believes that 40% of U.S. freight routes today could utilize its system at a lower operational cost than the current diesel-power and driver combination.
“The technology is here,” Falck said. “It’s definitely happening as we speak. The GE Appliances installation is proof this can be done when society is [ready] to adopt this technology.”
Click for more articles by Brian Straight.
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