Automotive

T-pod may be the cargo drone of the highways

The T-pod should have a range of about 200 km (124 miles) per charge
The T-pod should have a range of about 200 km (124 miles) per charge
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The T-pod should have a range of about 200 km (124 miles) per charge
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The T-pod should have a range of about 200 km (124 miles) per charge
The T-pod will measure about 7 meters (23 ft) in length, and be capable of carrying 15 standard pallets worth of cargo
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The T-pod will measure about 7 meters (23 ft) in length, and be capable of carrying 15 standard pallets worth of cargo
Road testing of the T-pod is scheduled to take place later this year
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Road testing of the T-pod is scheduled to take place later this year

We hear a lot about the coming of driverless transport trucks, but where might they first enter common use? Well, perhaps in Sweden. That's the home country of Einride, a startup that recently announced development of a sort-of-driverless electric vehicle known as the T-pod.

Although plans call for T-pods to have some autonomous driving features, the camera- and telemetry-system-equipped vehicles will also be remotely controlled by operators working at driving stations located in central facilities. That way, those people could go home at the end of their shift every day, as opposed to being on the road for days or even weeks at a time – it would be not unlike the way in which military drones are currently piloted in real time, in places far from the actual war zone.

Each vehicle should measure about 7 meters (23 ft) in length, and be capable of carrying 15 standard pallets worth of cargo. It will weigh 20 tons (18 tonnes) with a full load, covering a distance of approximately 200 km (124 miles) on one charge of its 200-kWh battery pack.

The T-pod will measure about 7 meters (23 ft) in length, and be capable of carrying 15 standard pallets worth of cargo
The T-pod will measure about 7 meters (23 ft) in length, and be capable of carrying 15 standard pallets worth of cargo

The first full-scale prototype was unveiled this Tuesday, with road testing reportedly scheduled to take place later this year. Assuming that goes as planned, the first production T-pods should then start transporting goods between the Swedish cities of Gothenburg and Helsingborg – it's a distance of about 219 km (136 miles), so they'll presumably have to recharge en route.

It is hoped that by 2020 there will be an "active fleet" of 200 T-pods, utilizing a network of roadside charging stations.

According to Einride, the vehicles will not only be quieter, safer and more eco-friendly than traditional transport trucks, but they should also more economical – they won't have cabs/sleepers, one operator could "drive" more than one semi-autonomous T-pod at a time, and transport companies wouldn't have to cover costs such as drivers' hotel bills.

Source: Einride

5 comments
VincentWolf
Seems strange they didnt make with 300 or more kW batteries so its initial route wouldnt need a charge up. But this is the future. Truck driving jobs will become a thing of the past as cars become more "robotic".
Kristianna Thomas
The world as we know it is slowly fading into the horizon, and a new reality is emerging to take its place. The rise of robotics will cause both a negative with the loss of traditional jobs and the rise of unemployment and poverty; although the use of robots is here to stay and may cause a social revolution as it has caused a technical revolution in the means of production. For every action there is a negative or positive reaction. How do we mortal humans who gleefully sold our ability to labor; reconcile the social/economic reality of robotic labor? Where does human labor fit into the new reality of the coming technological revolution? When one door closes; another door opens. What opportunities can be opened for humans to fit into? Robots will have, are having, an dramatic impact on the future of human history. The wealth of society is based on robotic/human labor. Will the Guess whose coming to dinner, will be an android lover; whose is a grad student at MIT?
Wolf0579
Here in Michigan, as it is in the rest of the country one supposes, the job of truck driver is the most common. Society really, really, really needs to decide NOW, how to handle the MASSIVE unemployment automation has brought, and continues to bring. We will need elect leaders who are loyal to their constituents, and will be unafraid to tax the corporations enough to provide a "negative income tax" for all of the people the corporations throw out of work, so they will still be able to buy the goods and services of those said corporations.
Bruce H. Anderson
Sending a load via a drone is simple enough. The challenge will be how to deal with battery swaps or charges mid-trip. I'm surprised they didn't chose a hybrid or range-extender option. But if there was a battery swap station (s), then down time would be reduced considerably, and battery charging may be more economical if done off-peak. And with a quick swap, a drone pilot could put in his hours and another drone pilot could pick up without missing a beat. There is, however, a big difference between piloting a drone in the air and driving a drone on the street. Should be interesting.
SaysMe
Why are they still not designing for aerodynamics? A box???