Swedish company Einride is looking to employ of fleet of 200 T-Pods by 2020 for a new autonomous delivery service. The T-Pod looks like something out of a sci-fi film (Photo via Einride)
We all heard the stories about self-driving cars and their unfortunate accidents, but ever think you’d see a self-driving delivery truck on the road? What kind of accidents do you imagine? One Swedish company is aiming to make this a reality. Einride recently showed off their prototype of T-Pod, an autonomous electric truck. Looking like a cross between a hilariously huge iPad and a kitchen appliance, the vehicle can move 15 standard pallets and can travel 124 miles on one charge. And it can hold a total weight of 20 tons when full. The truck doesn’t have cab space or windows, which explains its odd futuristic design.
For navigation, the truck employs a hybrid driverless system. T-Pod can steer itself while on the highway, but while on main roads a human will operate the vehicle remotely. There will also be people on hand to control several trucks at once when they’re on the highway if such a situation arizes.
Right now, T-Pod is still in its early prototype stage, but Einride is working on having the first truck completed by the fall. The company has bigger goals for the future. It wants to have a fleet of 200 T-Pods traveling between Gothenburg and Helsingborg. So far, Einride claims to have filled 60 percent of the 200 T-Pods they plan to build. Along with this, they’re also working on charging stations to power the trucks.
Einride isn’t the only company looking into autonomous delivery trucks. Waymo, Uber, and Daimler are also looking into similar technology. Volvo, also from Sweden, has been investing in self-driving technology for its own trucks. Last month, the company revealed their self-steering trucks that help out sugarcane framers improve their crop yield. While this vehicle isn’t totally autonomous, there’s still a driver inside, it drives alongside the harvester to deliver the crops off-site with minimal damage to the crop itself. Volvo ran similar tests in the mining industry and for garbage collection.
Even though these trucks sound cool, they should still be approached with some apprehension. Do we really want self-driving trucks delivering loads of cargo? What if something goes wrong? Hopefully, these companies are taking this into consideration. But chances are we won’t see anything like this in the States. We’re already getting a lot of push back just getting delivery bots on the sidewalk, so the idea of self-driving trucks on our highways probably won’t make it either.
I didn’t mention it in the review, but the movie “Logan” featured self-driving trucks that didn’t care one bit about pedestrians on the road. Perhaps an early prediction?
Either way, this is great inspiration for the IoT on Wheel Design Challenge.