German logistics group DB Schenker is now using Einride’s fully electric autonomous T-Pod truck in Jönköping, Sweden, to transport goods on a public road. Swedish authorities recently gave their approval for the endeavour.
With the begin of operations, both partners are calling the endeavour a world premiere as for the first time, a fully autonomous electric truck will travel in public between two nearby warehouses. Einride estimates that the T-Pod can reduce road freight operating costs by around 60 per cent in comparison to a diesel truck with a driver.
The approval from Swedish authorities is valid until the end of 2020 and stipulates that the T-Pod, which weighs 26 tons when fully loaded, may only travel at 5 kph, instead of its specified 85 kph. A 280 kWh battery on board should guarantee a range of 200 km.
Swedish authorities also only approved for a certain public road in an industrial area and guidelines stipulate that one employee per vehicle is assigned as a supervisor who can intervene from a distance using a joystick in the event of problems. Pär Degerman, head of engineering at Einride, says that each supervisor will be able to oversee ten autonomous trucks in the future, which would correspond to real staff savings.
Thanks to six cameras, four radar systems, four infrared detectors and two antennas that locate the vehicle’s location to within 20 millimetres, the T-Pod can find its target independently and does not have a drivers cab at all. According to Einride, the electric truck offers space for 15 Euro pallets instead.
As early as November 2018, Einride and DB Schenker started the first commissioning of a T-Pod on the site of a DB Schenker plant in Jönköping. Half a year earlier, the two companies had reached an agreement under which, in addition to the pilot project in Jönköping, the option of similar projects abroad would be discussed. In July last year, Einride revealed the prototype of the T-log – a fully electric, autonomous lumber truck.
Apart from the cooperation with Schenker, Einride has orders from German grocer Lidl, Swedish delivery company Svenska Retursystem and, according to Reuters, five other Fortune 500 retail companies. The company aims to have 200 electric truck in logistics operation by the end of 2020.
Additional reporting by Nora Manthey.