First self-driving, fully electric truck soon onto public roads
Swedish autonomous vehicle start-up Einride and logistic group DB Schenker are expecting to operate the world’s first commercial all-electric, driverless truck on a public road by January 2019.
After the launch in November of the first commercial installation of T-Pod at a DB Schenker facility in Jönköping, central Sweden, Einride and the German logistics group expect regulatory approval within weeks allowing all electric, self-driving trucks onto public roads.
Einride´s T-Pod is a 7.5-tonne “smart container on wheels”, which lacks a steering wheel, a foot pedal and even a driver cabin, which can be half the cost of building a truck, offering more room for freight.
The vehicle, considered Level 4 autonomous, is supervised by a human operator sitting hundreds of kilometers away who can supervise up to 10 vehicles at once and remotely drive it when needed to navigate difficult terrains. In order to achieve Level 5, a vehicle should be able to operate without driver in all conditions.
According to experts* in the sector, the commercial adoption of Level 4 autonomous, fully electric trucks would be sufficient to realize potentially significant decrease in CO2 emissions and cost savings due to zero fuel consumption.
Additionally, a fleet of self-driving, electric trucks can be coordinated by an intelligent routing system, which would lead to optimised delivery time, battery life and energy utilization, also reducing amount of accidents.
Besides Einride, numerous established companies as well as start-ups are currently working on autonomous trucks’ technologies. Among them, Embark, Daimler/Mercedes, Waymo, Kodiak, Volvo and Tesla are the most promising ones.
Although there are still several challenges to be tackled, such as ensuring the complete safety of pedestrians and other vehicles on public roads, the transition to self-driving technology combined with electrification has a strong potential to pave the way for a future more sustainable, efficient and safe road freight transportation.
*Discover more about autonomous, all-electric trucks here.