Cabless, self-driving T-pod trundles on public roads for the first time
Sweden's Einride unveiled the first prototype T-pod truck in 2017, followed by an appearance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed last year for a logging variant called the T-log. The transport company also inked a partnership agreement in 2018 with global logistics company DB Schenker to test the T-pod, and now the autonomous electric truck has made its public roads debut.
Einride says its mission is to make the movement of goods more intelligent, emission-free, safe, cost-effective and sustainable. The company also claims that its first truck – the T-pod – "renders many conventional road transport solutions practically obsolete."
The battery-electric T-pod doesn't have a driver's cab, and is capable of Level 4 autonomy thanks to onboard cameras, radars, LiDARs, and Nvidia's Drive platform. But it can be remote-controlled by a human operator if required. It's reported to have a per charge range of 200 km (124 mi) and a top speed of 85 km/h (52.8 mph).
A test truck was installed at DB Schenker's facility in Jönköping, Sweden, in November, 2018, and on-site testing by the Swedish Transport Agency in March of this year was shortly followed by approval for a public roads pilot.
That pilot took place earlier this week on a short stretch of public road within an industrial area "where traffic speeds are typically low." The T-pod moved off from DB Schenker's warehouse, entered the site terminal through a gate that automatically opened to let it through, reversed up to a terminal port and then drove off again.
"Heavy road transport is responsible for a substantial part of global CO2 emissions," said Einride's Robert Falck. "The pilot in Jönköping is a small but important step towards a sustainable transport system. The permit from the Swedish Transport Agency is an important testimonial to the safety of the solution."
The T-pod will now enter daily service between the warehouse and terminal. The current permit is valid until December 31, 2020. The video below has more.