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Self-driving startup Einride deploys cab-less electric truck in Sweden

Self-driving startup Einride deploys cab-less electric truck in Sweden (Photo: Shutterstock)

Einride, the Swedish autonomous trucking company, has successfully deployed its first cab-less, autonomous and fully electric truck for freight hauling in DB Schenker’s facility in Jönköping, Sweden. Named the “T-pod,” it will transport cargo between a warehouse and a terminal at the facility, as part of daily commercial operations.

The cargo capacity of T-pod is 15 standard pallets and it can handle cargo up to 26 tons. Being an electric truck, it has a battery capacity of 200 kWh and can haul freight for 124 miles on a full charge. The T-pod is an SAE Level 4 autonomous vehicle, meaning that the truck can be controlled remotely and monitored from a centralized location that could be hundreds of miles away.

Einride has been in a partnership with DB Schenker since April 2018, with the German logistics company playing an integral part in rolling out the commercial installation in Jönköping. Last year, during the launch of the T-pod, DB Schenker’s CEO Jochen Thewes outlined the company’s interest in furthering sustainable and innovative logistics, with autonomous driving being at the heart of these efforts.

“Together with Einride, we want to bring the first autonomous, fully electric truck onto public roads in the near future and thus set new standards for tomorrow’s logistics,” Thewes said at the T-pod’s unveiling. Apart from its operations in Jönköping, Einride has an option for additional international pilots with DB Schenker and also recently acquired its first government permit to drive on a public road in Jönköping.

Nicholas Rundbom, director of communications at Einride, stressed the importance of expanding into the U.S. market. Apart from being the largest road freight market in the world, the U.S. continues to be a hotbed for autonomous driving technology. “We also see a lot of commercial interest there [the U.S.], and we have signed commercial contracts with five Fortune 500 companies. Europe will remain important to us, and we have dialogues with companies in other markets as well,” said Rundbom.

Rundbom explained that Einride sees promise within the forestry segment for its transportation solutions, with the company building a vehicle variant called the T-log, designed to carry timber.  As a zero-emission and zero-noise electric vehicle, a T-log is better suited to function within a forest environment than diesel-powered trucks. That said, Einride does not sell its vehicles, but instead develops them as transportation solutions and delivers freight hauling as a service to its customers.

Einride calls its solution an autonomous electric transport (AET) system, and likens it to an intelligent “operating system” for road freight. The AET system includes an order management platform, a fleet management platform, self-driving and remote-control technology and vehicles (the T-pod and T-log).

“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. 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,” said Rundbom of Einride’s purpose.

Einride has raised $10 million in investment and is now in the middle of its Series A round. Apart from its partnership with DB Schenker, the startup also has orders from German retailer Lidl, Swedish delivery company Svenska Retursystem, and a few more Fortune 500 retail businesses. The company plans to deploy 200 vehicles in commercial operations by the end of 2020.