Einride is a Swedish autonomous truck startup which showcased one of its new vehicle which is expected to hit the road and delivering freight by 2021. The vehicles which are called Autonomous Electric Transport or AET has about four variations and just like other Einride trucks, the new vehicles also have no space for physical drivers.
The company’s interesting prototypes had always been eye-catching since 2016 when the company was founded. The T-Pod was released back in the year 2017 and it approved to operate on public roads while transporting freight for Oatl, a Swedish food manufacturer.
Einride’s also been engaged with the less glamorous part of the job, which is testing, validating, and seeking regulatory approval for its vehicles, all of which are electric and can be controlled remotely by a human operator, in addition to operating autonomously without human intervention. The company has yet to reveal its plans for production and manufacturing.
The unique design of the AET vehicles are pretty similar to the Einride’s Pod prototype which is pretty unique and has the EV design aesthetics with smooth lines and great feel that makes it pretty decent and interesting and most of all cab-less.
The new design of the AET is meant to be much more aerodynamic according to the company’s CEO Robert Falck which is meant to propel the company’s manufacturing. “When you nail a design the first time, why reinvent the wheel?” Falck said.
Part of the interesting capabilities of the new AET includes high performance as well as their hauling capacity. The AET has four levels with the first two being AET 1 and AET 2 which has a top speed of about 30 km/h (18mph) and weighs 26 tons and can deliver a payload of 16 tons with a battery range of 130 – 180 km (80 – 110 miles). Then there are the AET 3 and AET 4 both have the same weight and payload capacity but has a better top speed of about 45 km/h and 85 km/h respectively.
The only difference of the four autonomous EV trucks is their operational domain which is basically the condition under which they can drive autonomously. Like te the AE1 for example, its designed to operate within a geofence or a defined geographic area while the AET 2 has a permit to travel outside its geofence through teleoperation while AET 3 is designed for rural environments then the AET 4 is meant for highways.
The next generation Pod is a singular vehicle, but operates in up to four different operational domains (AET levels). So for example if a customer orders a Pod with AET 3 capability, it is able to operate in closed facilities (AET 1 – Fenced), on nearby delivery routes (AET 2 – Nearby), and on back roads between destinations at speeds up to 45 km/h (AET 3 – Rural). Every Pod, regardless of AET level, is capable of SAE level 4 autonomous drive and able to be remotely operated when necessary.
In terms of tech features, each Pod will be nearly identical, with some different hardware and software configurations depending both on unique customer needs and operational domain demands. That means an electric drivetrain, proprietary telematics hardware that interfaces with the freight mobility platform, and autonomous drive hardware such as LIDAR, cameras, and sensors on each Pod.
Einride claims its new vehicles will “reduce transport costs by up to 60 percent and CO2 emissions by a staggering 90 percent” — a bold but impossible to fact-check claim, given the company doesn’t have a fully scaled business yet.
Just in 2019 the company was able to raise about US$25 million by January and then another US$10 million earlier this month from its existing investors. Einride was also able to demonstrate how a single operator can control multiple pods at once.
Parts of its software architecture for a successful self-driving capabilities is the integration of the NVIDIA’s system which the company is able to use to achieve the Level 4 whereby the autonomous trucks can be completely driverless under certain conditions though.
The trucks can as well be controlled using a remote operator who stays in a far location away using the Phantom Auto’s teleoperation technology. This is the technology could potentially help the company overcome situations such as off-road driving which demands some level of expertise.
The trucking sector had always been speculated to being the most affected when autonomous driving becomes a thing but the company seems to be well focused on its mission in the heavy-duty industry while successfully hauling freights.
No doubt the image of a cab-less truck will further stoke fears that autonomous technology will lead to enormous displacement in the workforce — or just fears about the safety of a tractor-trailer sized vehicle without a human driver. In the US, 4.4 million jobs are related to driving; of those, trucking jobs comprise about 2.5 million. A recent study found that automated trucks could reduce the demand for drivers by as much as 50 to 70 percent in the US and Europe by 2030, with 4.4 million of the 6.4 million professional drivers on both continents rendered obsolete.