Better utilization of cargo space is a big part of the business model for Swedish-based, upstart Cargo as a Service (CaaS) company, Einride. By eliminating the cab and associated driver and placing the electric powertrain and associated batteries under the cargo, almost 100% of the Einride T-Pod is available for payload. This efficiency manifests in a solution that, Einride CEO Robert Falck, indicates will be 1/3 the price of a traditional approach.
Falck, points out that the average tractor-trailer in Europe is only 30% full, so by right-sizing the vehicle, they hope to increase the average load-size, further improving efficiencies. Falck calls what they are doing with the T-Pod and associated tele-operator and software back-end as creating, “The truckers of tomorrow.”
The T-Pod’s electronic driver consists of multiple sensors including radar, LiDAR and cameras. The brains of the unit are the Nvidia PX2, combined with Einride’s software. A human isn’t completely out of the loop as a teleoperator will monitor the vehicles. Falck envisions that eventually one operator will monitor up to 10 of their vehicles.
Latency is a key consideration of tele-operations and Falck explains that 5G will be important for this effort, although he indicates that Einride’s partners will ensure that 4G networks will meet their needs.
The unique features of this vehicle allow Einride to create a new kind of model for the trucking industry, while providing a quieter, much lower pollution solution than traditional mid-haul cargo transport (they are focused on 200 to 500-kilometer transport, although the specifications indicate 200 km range). Another advantage, especially at loading docks where space is tight, is its inherent maneuverability.
Falck indicates that they are looking for partners in the U.S. with a goal of operating vehicles in early 2019. This dovetails with their goal of having 200 T-Pods on Swedish roads in 2020.