Einride autonomous electric transport vehicle called a Pod that can be remotely monitored and … [+]
Moving goods by commercial truck has taken on added importance as the coronavirus pandemic has forced millions of individuals to skip the store, opting instead for online purchases delivered to their doors.
Even before the crisis, registered truck drivers in the U.S. were burning up the miles—297.6 billion in a single year according to the American Trucking Association. That figure is certain to balloon when the final tally on the pandemic is in.
But Swedish freight mobility company Einride says it’s developed a way to reduce the number of miles a trucker has to sit behind the wheel, enduring long, tiresome trips, but still control the vehicle.
One operator can remotely monitor and control two Einride autonomous electric transport vehicles … [+]
The system gives engineers and operators the ability to monitor and control multiple Einride autonomous electric transport (AET) vehicles it calls Pods from a remote location. Right now an operator can oversee two Pods, but the company says the goal is for a single operator to monitor and control up to 10. In practice, Einride envisions a team of operators overseeing a fleet of Pods. Unlike some other autonomous trucks no backup or “safety” driver would be aboard an Einride Pod. However the remote operator can intervene and take necessary actions, for instance, parking at a loading dock or avoiding an obstacle in the road.
A remote operator can step in to control an Einride autonomous electric transport vehicle, called a … [+]
“The remote operation and oversight of autonomous vehicles require robust real-time video and data transmission, managed through a secure channel over often insecure infrastructure,” said Pär Degerman, CTO of Einride, in a statement. “With this milestone, we are laying the technical foundation for swift and easy switching between vehicles as well as the ongoing scaling of this functionality. Not only can we switch between monitored vehicles, but also between operators in different geographical locations, increasing the flexibility of our system exponentially.”
The company contends its remotely controlled autonomous Pods improves efficiency by boosting the number of daily operating hours per truck from 8 to 24 and relieves human drivers of time-consuming tasks such as waiting for load and unloading, battery recharging or refueling.
Current range for Einride’s autonomous electric Pods is 200km or about 124 miles, which would seem to preclude long-haul trips without multiple stops for battery recharging.
Robert Falck, founder and CEO, Einride
Still, Robert Falck, Einride founder and CEO, contends the advantages of its AETs outweigh any limitations, saying, “With the ability to monitor and control multiple AET vehicles with just one remote operator, we can dramatically improve the cost efficiency of every vehicle in a fleet, not to mention significantly reducing emissions and improving the work environment for truck drivers.”
Einride is already hiring its first operators in Sweden, but says it will be expanding to the U.S. later this year.