Every month we select one company which represents a positive example of innovation in logistics and has the potential to alter the way the industry operates. This month, Transmetrics selected Einride, the producer of fully autonomous transport vehicles, as the February “Company of the Month” for its exceptional vision for the future of the road transportation as well as the development of innovative automation technologies. In order to learn more about the company and what they do, we asked them several questions about their business that you can read in the interview below.
First of all, congratulations for becoming the Company of the Month! Can we start from briefly introducing our readers to Einride and your main product T-pod?
“The T-pod is the first transport vehicle completely designed and developed for self-driving and electrical propulsion. The T-pod has no cab or driver’s seat and is a part of a transport system that uses the benefits of self-driving and electric propulsion to create a cost-competitive and emission-free transport alternative.”
Einride is the next generation’s disruptive road transport solution: safe, cost-efficient and emission-free. By rethinking the foundation of transportation, Einride‘s T-pod is the first transport vehicle designed and developed for self-driving electric propulsion. Einride’s mission is to be a major contributor to a sustainable society by lowering the carbon dioxide emissions of the transport industry.
The T-pod is the first transport vehicle completely designed and developed for self-driving and electrical propulsion. The T-pod has no cab or driver’s seat and is a part of a transport system that uses the benefits of self-driving and electric propulsion to create a cost-competitive and emission-free transport alternative.
With a smaller and more agile T-pod, Einride’s Transport System allows for a more flexible and optimized supply chain. By allowing for cost-efficient smaller shipments, the T-pod can reduce tied-up capital, delivery time and cost of transport. Einride´s transport system is a new way of thinking about road transport, creating new and innovative supply chain solutions.
It looks like a really fascinating product, can you please tell us what inspired you to create a driverless vehicle? What was the process of building your prototype vehicle like?
A lot of thought and consideration took place when designing and building the T-pod. Einride is confident in remote and self-driving technology, and we believe that it is the way of the future. The driver is there for no longer necessary in the vehicle but could be moved to an office space to remotely control the vehicles instead. From there, we optimized the T-pod to be able to carry as much cargo as possible while still being efficient. We are working on making the production T-pod look as close as possible to the current prototype.
Your T-pod concept is quite different from many other self-driving technologies since T-pod does not offer a driver’s cabin. Why did you decide to go this way instead of a more traditional one when a person can get in charge of handling if necessary? Can you tell us a bit more about the technology used in T-pods?
With no driver in the vehicle the business case changes. One remote driver/operator can remotely be monitoring and take control of the T-pod, which in the future, would include several T-pods at once. Einride uses GPS, radar, lidar, and cameras to allow the T-pod to drive itself as well as be driven remotely. With this technology, the T-pods can operate independently and do not require platooning. The T-pods will be able to pull into and connect to charging stations along the routes on their own.
This brings us to the next question. Since your product eliminates the need for a truck driver, it raises some ethical concerns, and the most famous one is of course “the trolley problem” when the vehicle does not have the clear “right choice” of actions. How are you addressing this issue?
We will not start using the T-pods in environments that could put anyone in danger until it’s completely safe. We use information from the technologies mentioned above as well as other software/technologies for the T-pod to operate safely. The T-pod will start operating within closed areas such as storage to storage.
Recently, you’ve announced the partnership with Lidl Sweden, which aims to reduce Lidl’s emissions by 100% by using T-pods. It is a powerful example of the recent innovative changes within the logistics industry. What do you think is the future of electric and self-driving cargo vehicles within the logistics industry in the next few years? What role Einride is going to play in it?
The trucking industry has not changed for many, many years. We believe that in the transport industry will be the first to fully implement self-driving and battery technologies. The T-pod has the potential to disrupt the transport industry since diesel is getting more expensive while battery technology is getting cheaper and better. The T-pod system is the first solution creating a competitive offer to the heavy truck transport market. Einride replaces an old and expensive solution with a new cost-efficient alternative.
And now a more provocative question, what do you think are the negative sides of the electric and self-driving trucks?
The technologies of electric, battery, and self-driving are already very advanced. What we think is going to be hard to accept is for society to adapt to these changes that we need to address to be able to meet our environmental goals.
Your company is very young, but your progress since 2016 is quite remarkable. What is the ambitious Einride’s plan for 2018? Are there any interesting announcements that we need to look forward to?
The team has plenty of exciting news and announcements ahead. Next month we are continuing our U.S. tour where you can see the T-pod in person to the West Coast. Following that, in Q3 we plan to make the first installation of T-pods at our customers such as Lidl.
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