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Emerging Tech: Sweden’s Driverless Electric Trucks Make Debut On Roads

The Oasis Reporters

May 16, 2019








Einride Autonomous Truck images.



When the T-Pod truck that doesn’t have a steering wheel or even a cab, using Cameras, Radar and 3D Sensors makes its entry into Lagos, Nigeria, screams, curses and loud music at the nation’s boisterous bus-stops would be like water on the back of the duck for it.



Swedish startup, EINRIDE says it’s the first autonomous truck to be tested on public roads without a backup driver.



The driverless electric truck has started deliveries on a Swedish public road, as a test, just short distances from factory to warehouse in Sweden on Wednesday, in what developer Einride and logistics customer DB Schenker described as a world first.



Robert Falck, the CEO of Swedish start-up Einride, said the company was in partnership talks with major suppliers to help make volume in production, leveraging on costs, and deliver orders. The firm did not rule out future tie-ups with large truck makers.



“This public road permit is a major milestone … and it is a step to commercializing autonomous technology on roads,” the former Volvo executive told 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,” he said, adding he hoped to seal a deal by next year.



Falck said Einride, whose investors include ex-Daimler Asia trucks head Marc Llistosella, is also courting investors for an ongoing Series A fundraising, often a company’s first sizable one. It previously raised $10 million.



All these huge and exciting developments are coming at a time that Nigeria’s Deputy Senate President, Prof. Ike Ekweremadu is reported to have mooted the idea of frustrating electric cars because the African nation is the continent’s largest producer of crude oil.


However he has been challenged by Senator Ben Murray Bruce who is an enthusiast of electric cars himself, despite being indigenous to the oil producing Niger Delta region.



Einride’s T-Pod is 26 tonnes when full and does not have a driver cabin, which it estimates reduces road freight operating costs by around 60 percent versus a diesel truck with a driver.



Besides Schenker, Einride has orders from German grocer Lidl, Swedish delivery company Svenska Retursystem and five Fortune 500 retail companies, underpinning its ambition to have 200 vehicles in operation by the end of 2020.



Freight operators are under pressure to reduce delivery times, cut emissions and face a growing shortage of drivers.



Schenker picked Einride over established truckmakers as the T-Pod straddles the two biggest sector transformations: digitization and electrification, CEO Jochen Thewes said.



The T-Pod is level 4 autonomous, the second highest category, and uses a Nvidia Drive platform to process visual data in real time. An operator, sitting miles away, can supervise and control up to 10 vehicles at once.



With one operator controlling up to ten trucks at once just in case any in the fleet runs into rare difficulties, the problem of finding truck drivers to employ is reduced.



Once 5G technology is fully rolled out and electrification continues to deepen, autonomous vehicles would be common place and the chances of cab services software like UBER and Taxify would make transportation a much more cheaper and pleasurable experience.



Currently, the T-Pod shuttles at 5km per hour, mostly over short distances like warehouse to terminal as is currently happening in Jonkoping, Central Sweden, according to documents from the company.



There’s so much room for expansion on a global scale as a revolution seem to have kickstarted in the transportation sector. Especially when the use of cheap drones is factored in.



With autonomous vehicles, even persons living with disability have a lifetime of traveling anywhere, anytime with less stress on their own.



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Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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