Self-driving trucks are attracting a lot of investment and attention, but Swedish transport startup Einride has a different vision of how freight will move around roads in the future. The company revealed its “T-pod” design, an electric vehicle with self-driving capabilities that can carry 15 pallets of goods, travel 200 km (124 miles) on one charge while producing zero emissions.
The T-Pod isn’t a truck in the traditional sense; it’s more like a boxcar with an electric motor and remote operating capabilities. While it’s capable of self-driving, Einride notes that it also can be driven remotely, giving it additional capabilities that current autonomous driving tech can’t manage (existing automated transport truck tech requires human drivers to take over once the vehicles leave the highway).
Einride plans to start testing the T-pod this year, so this also isn’t a tremendously far-flung future innovation. The plan is to follow testing with international distribution, and to help develop an infrastructure of charging stations that can help the T-pods extend their active range and complete longer routes.
The 7 meter (23 foot)-long T-pod has a total weight of 20 tons when loaded down fully with cargo, which is smaller than most transport trucks. But platooning the vehicles can replicate the transport power of larger vehicles, while keeping range and efficiency at their best. Also, because the vehicles are designed to be remotely piloted, they don’t incur additional idle work time for drivers while they’re stopped and recharging.
Einride says it hopes to get the T-pods into active service with a total fleet size of around 200 vehicles by 2020, which is ambitious given its relative youth. But the idea definitely has a lot of merit, and all the fundamental tech pieces appear to be in place to make this possible.
You can check out Einride’s launch video below, or you can visit their website.
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