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Einride’s Autonomous Electric Transport

Yesterday, Einride launched a successor to its first vehicle concept Pod (or T-Pod as it was referred to from the beginning). The new vehicle, called Autonomous Electric Transport (AET), comes in four versions, AET 1-4. [1]

AET 1 is made for short-haul transports within fenced areas and speeds up to 30 km/h. As such, it does not require permission from authorities. AET 2 will also be able to be driven at speeds up to 30 km/h, however, it will be used for short-haul transports on public roads. AET 3 and 4 are made for speeds up to 45 km/h on rural roads and 85 km/h on motorways, respectively. AET 2-4 requires permission from authorities.

In terms of design, the new vehicle is similar to its predecessor: it has no cab, is about the same size, has a range of up to 180 km, and can transport up to 16 tons at a time. However, it has received a "facelift", to make it more aerodynamic and functional as well as more suitable for large-scale production and commercialization. 

All versions can be pre-ordered, starting as of yesterday, with a 10 000 US dollar reservation fee. Also, there is an operational fee of $18 000 up to $22 500 per month, depending on the vehicle version. This subscription fee includes access to Einride's fleet management system that will coordinate and operate the vehicles through the supervision of certified remote operators. The expected delivery for AET 1 and 2 is 2021, while the other two AETs will be ready around 2023.

According to Einride, these vehicles can, in combination with an appropriate fleet management system, improve transport efficiency, and reduce transport costs by up to 60% and carbon dioxide emissions by 90%. Furthermore, productivity can be tripled. Several of the company's customers, including Lidl and Oatly, have ordered the new vehicles. In addition, Einride has two new customers, the tire manufacturer Bridgestone and the battery manufacturer Northvolt, who plan for the same.

Last but not least, Einride did promise a showcase on October 15th, 2020, where a ”never-before-seen capability” from a self-driving pod will be demonstrated. Clues: the ambition is to set a speed record for such a pod on Top Gear's racetrack in England. 

 

Personal comments

During the launch event, Einride's CEO Robert Falck declared the importance of combining electrification, fleet management, and automation to meet our current transport challenges. He also pointed out that stakeholders in general have a vision of launching an AI-driver who is better than a human driver. But it is technically difficult to achieve, and the recipe for success, according to him, is to take one step at a time and understand where such solutions fit in and are possible to implement.

Einride's strategy is to get to know its customers and their transport needs and offer mobility solutions that are in line with these needs. The question is just how much fine-tuning it will mean for each individual customer?

The new truck is impressive in itself but maybe the biggest impact on the freight operations sustainability will come from leveraging the transport optimization software that is an important part of the package. As derived from the launch; since freight operational logistics happens mostly out of cities, between hubs back-and-forth, it is crucial to understand where it is possible to deliver with an autonomous mobility system. Einride's statements about the benefits of the new vehicles and transport management system is difficult to confirm or contradict - until the service is scaled up, it is hard to know what (long-term) effects it may have in society. This also includes taking into account the remote operators and new challenges that may arise related to the so-called human factors.

 

Written by Azra Habibovic, RISE. 

 

Sources

1. 2020-10-08. Einride launches next-generation Pod, makes autonomous electric transport commercially available worldwide.