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Einride's Autonomous Electric Truck: This Driverless Electric Pod Is the Delivery Guy of the Future


All those years playing Microsoft Truck Simulator are about to pay off, if Einride's new self-driving, electric truck ends up coming to production.

Einride, a Swedish tech company, unveiled its idea for the future of trucking. It's called the T-pod, and it's a self-driving, battery-electric truck that aims for sustainability. The truck uses a hybrid driverless system. While on highways, the T-pod drives itself, but on main roads, a human will remotely manage the driving system. People will also monitor T-pods as they drive on highways in case a situation arises that necessitates human control.

And because there's no need for a person to sit inside of it, the T-pod also has no cab space and no windows. Giving it a very futuristically odd look
Einride is currently working on charging stations for the trucks.

The T-pod is about 23 feet long and it looks like nothing else on the road. Its operating weight of 20 metric tons (about 44,000 pounds) allows for a load capacity of 15 standard pallets. Its 200-kWh electric battery will supply enough juice for about 200 kilometers (124 miles) of driving on a single charge.

The Einride T-Pod is unique in its design, as you can see, but it’s designed from the ground up for remote human operation and driverless functioning, meaning you don’t need the traditional crew cabin, and can instead build a vehicle tailor-made exclusively for transporting goods efficiently. 

While the T-pod seen here is only a prototype, its goal is to be put to work within the next few years. Einride hopes to create a transport system between Gothenburg and Helsingborg, two Swedish towns about 200 km apart. Approximately 200 of these T-pod trucks will operate on this route.

Einride sees a significant environmental benefit from this train of T-pods. Electric trucks traveling between Gothenburg and Helsingborg will be able to save the equivalent of 400,000 cars' worth of carbon-dioxide emissions over the same distance. Einride's hope is to reduce freight-related carbon dioxide emissions up to 60 percent by 2030.

Einride isn't the only company working on driverless shipping trucks. Self-driving trucks are in a burgeoning niche that is attracting attention from all corners of the tech and auto industry. Uber purchased Otto, a company that achieved the first self-driving-truck delivery in the US. Freightliner and Daimler have a prototype in the works. Chipmaker Nvidia is working with the manufacturer PACCAR to develop a self-driving system for trucks, as well.

The T-pod prototype isn't fully developed quite yet, but Einride expects to have its first completed truck available to customers in the fall. By 2020, the company plans to have a fleet of 200 goofy-looking trucks that will travel between Swedish cities, carrying an expected two million pallets per year.

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Autonomous vehicles have made significant progress in the last decade and should be available to buy very soon. In this TDC mini-doc, we look at the history of "self-driving" vehicles, where the industry is today, and what our roads will look like in the future.