No driver’s cab, more cargo capacity: the T-pod from the Swedish tech start-up Einride travels autonomously and is solely powered by batteries. Video: Einride
DB Schenker and the start-up Einride are scheduled this spring to begin trialing the world’s first truck that is both all-electrically propelled and autonomous in real logistics operation. The T-pod has just received the required road approval from the relevant authorities in Sweden, where the pilot project will be run in the city of Jönköping. On this basis, the innovative heavy goods vehicle will be able to carry shipments between a warehouse and a DB Schenker terminal on a daily basis – driving on a road with a relatively low speed limit.
The project was “a milestone on the road to the transport system of the future,” said Jochen Thewes, CEO of Schenker AG. Robert Falck, the CEO of the T-pod manufacturer Einride, said: “Heavy goods traffic accounts for a significant proportion of global carbon dioxide emissions. The pilot project in Jönköping is a small but important step towards a safe and sustainable transport system.” The telecommunications companies Ericsson and Telia also participate in the project. The road approval recently issued will be valid until the end of 2020.
The T-pod’s guidance is permanently managed by a technical system. For this reason, the vehicle does not require a driver’s cab, and this allows for additional cargo space – the truck’s total payload is 16 metric tons. An operator monitors the vehicle and can intervene at any time from a type of command center that may well be several hundred kilometers away. Part of the concept is that one operator will be able to manage a whole fleet of T-pods. The agreement between Einride and DB Schenker for the pilot project in Jönköping also includes an option for additional pilots to be run in other countries.