Driverless electric truck begins daily freight deliveries on public road in Sweden

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According to Reuters, a driverless electric truck has begun daily freight deliveries on a public road in Sweden.

These deliveries are a “world first” according to the truck’s developer, Swedish start-up Einride, and logistics customer DB Schenker. 

“This public road permit is a major milestone ... and it is a step to commercializing autonomous technology on roads,” Robert Falck, Einride’s CEO, tells Reuters.

“Since we’re a software and operational first company, a partnership with a manufacturing company is something that we see as a core moving forward.”

Weighing 26 tons when full, Einride’s T-Pod does not have a driver cabin, which, according to Einride’s estimates, reduces road freight operating costs by approximately 60 percent versus a diesel truck with a driver.

Schenker CEO Jochen Thewes says that the company picked Einride because the T-Pod “straddles the two biggest sector transformations: digitization and electrification.”

“We believe that Einride is the best concept out there for now,” Thewes says.

The T-Pod, which is level 4 autonomous, processes visual data in real time using a Nvidia Drive platform. Miles away, an operator can supervise and control up to 10 vehicles at once.

Right now, the T-Pod has permission to make short trips between a warehouse and a terminal on a public road in an industrial area in Jonkoping, central Sweden, at up to five kilometers per hour, according to documents from the transport authority referenced by Reuters.

Falck says Einride would apply for more public route permits next year, and was planning to expand in the United States.

“Ground zero for autonomous vehicles is the United States,” Falck says. “I think it will be the first market to scale when it comes to autonomous vehicles.”

With ambitions of having 200 vehicles in operation by the end of 2020, Einride not only has orders from Schenker, but also from German grocer Lidl, Swedish delivery company Svenska Retursystem and five Fortune 500 retail companies. 

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