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T-Pod electric vehicle

‘T-Pod’ electric self-driving vehicle aims to revolutionise long-haul trucking

Swedish company Einride has developed an electric self-driving vehicle christened the ‘T-Pod’, which claims to be the world’s first completely emission-free road-based transportation system.

The T-Pod is an electric, self-driving vehicle that can be remotely controlled. It is seven metres long, weighs 18,000kg at full capacity and can travel 124 miles on a full charge. It equipped with sensors to offer 360° vision, and is accompanied by a remote control system, charging stations and other infrastructure.

Einride celebrated the vehicle’s global launch today, having presented the technology at the STHLM Tech Meetup - a major monthly start-up event - earlier this week in Stockholm, Sweden.

Einride aims to help the transportation industry shift away from heavy, noisy trucks to a system with zero carbon emissions and better working conditions in which workers operate their vehicles remotely. The T-Pod, Einride claim, would improve road safety and provide more flexible, cost-efficient transportation.

The T-Pod is the latest variation on the self-driving HGV to be trialled. Embark, a self-driving trucking start-up launched earlier this year has been testing its vehicles on Nevada roads and last year Uber acquired Otto, a company which has been retrofitting trucks with hardware – including cameras and radar – to enable autonomy.

Unlike previous self-driving trucks, the T-Pod is designed without a cabin and interior facilities for the driver. Once established, Einride plan for there to be a single driver controlling numerous trucks remotely, combining manual and automated driving.

“The system is ‘driven’ from a remote station allowing the driver to control the truck,” said Robert Falck, CEO of Einride, speaking exclusively to E&T. “It will revolutionise truck driving, as drivers will be able to take rest or take coffee breaks whenever they choose and won’t require the drivers to travel during business hours.”

Flip Lilja, COO at Einride said that the T-Pod would “transform the transport chain from the ground up”, by increasing efficiency and offering an environmentally friendly choice of autonomous vehicle.

“The big companies behind long-haul trucks keep building bigger trucks to increase efficiency, which ultimately means even more emissions. We are changing that by creating a secure solution that is not only cost-effective, but dramatically minimises the negative environmental impact of the transportation industry.”

The T-Pod is set for prototype testing this year, when the vehicle will travel between the cities of Gothenburg and Helsingborg. Einride aims to have 200 T-Pods on the roads by 2020.

“We don’t believe our work is done when we’ve achieved carbon neutrality,” said Falck. “Our design process is driven by our goal to have a net positive impact – whether that’s improving the lives of transport workers or reducing road traffic accidents, every element of our system aims to have a measurable positive impact on the planet.”  

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