Einride unveils T-pod prototype remote controlled truck

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Electric vehicle starts with pallet delivery but to take on containers and refrigerated cargo


As governments scramble as fast as they can to deal with automotive IT advances, industry and entrepreneurs are showing how far they need to go, with Swedish firm Einride and its electric self-driving truck the latest to highlight the divide.

Einride has unveiled , at the recent annual Almedalsveckan event in Visby, the remotely controlled pallet transporter ‘T-pod’ prototype, which is set for real-world testing this year "followed by international distribution".

"In addition to the T-pod, we are developing a remote driving system, charging stations and an infrastructure that will make the system the most pioneering of its kind," the company says.

The remote operation abilities of the T-pod allow drivers to monitor and operate multiple T-pods at once, it adds.

Remote drivers will control vehicle movements around loading docks for safety reasons and to simplify operations.

"Following a big investment round, we are moving forward," Einride CEO Robert Falck says, expanding on the concept in an online video.

"We have commitment from customers to get this installed during the [northern] autumn and we will see the T-pod live in a couple of months."

For the company, the present distance capacity of 200km on one charge is less important than the battery charging system and network Einride envisages going with it.

However, though early in the initiative’s life, Falck puts charging term at one hour and driving period around two hours.

He describes container transport as the "natural next step" after kicking off with pallets and says existing unnamed customers have raised the issue of refrigerated loads.

The company is in discussions with telecom firms on heightening connection reliability but, for now, the T-pod’s operations are being contained in highly controlled environments.

The company plans to have 200 T-pods being used by 2020, with reports from Europe that it has about 120 spoken for.

The company says it is eyeing the Gothenburg- Helsingborg route with a view to transport up to 2,000,000 pallets per year.

On regulatory matters, Falk notes that Sweden has progressive rules around testing that allows that to happen on public streets.

It seems autonomous remotely controlled driverless or self-driving trucks may become a common sight in Sweden, with the likes of Volvo and Scania already pushing ahead with their options.

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