We, humans, are in the midst of the ‘Industry 4.0’ revolution, working towards blending both the physical and digital world. It is changing the way we look at things, right from the economy to industries. The automotive industry is also on the cusp of another technological revolution as we are witnessing two dramatic changes simultaneously – the transition to electric vehicles and the rise of autonomous vehicles. The commercialisation of these technologies can drastically alter the global transportation network.
Electric Trucks are next big thing
In recent months, there has been a lot of buzz in the media about electric cars & bikes, but you know electric trucks are not far behind. Currently, the segment has hardly any players but in the next couple of years, the sector is poised to get quite crowded. A lot of automotive OEMs are working to electrify and re-model the delivery and distribution truck, for electrifying logistics.
Next-Generation Pods goes official
Recently, the Swedish autonomous and electric freight mobility leader provider Einride launched its next-generation Pod in the hopes to have it on the road starting from 2021. These Pods resemble Einride’s previous prototype without any compartment for the driver. Back in 2019, according to the company, Einride’s pod became the world’s first autonomous, all-electric truck to operate a commercial flow for DB Schenker with a permit on the public road.
“We created the AET classification system based on use cases for a driverless, electric freight vehicle. With this approach, we are able to develop and scale our capabilities in the most common and appropriate use cases for freight, with the ultimate goal of automating as much of the transport network as possible,” said Pär Degerman, CTO of Einride.
As per the company, the new Pod features a refined design, making it more aerodynamic and functional but also preparing it for wide-scale production and commercialisation. Further, high-performance lighting is integrated onto the front and the rear lights have been extended the entire height of the cargo bay for maximum visibility for other road users.
The launch was kicked off with a video filmed by Swedish artist Alexander Wessely and featuring the symphony “Einride” by Swedish composer Jacob Mühlrad played on a player piano. The full video can be seen here:
Talking about the major challenges currently faced by the company, Einride’s spokesperson tells Silicon Canals, “One of our biggest challenges at the moment is working with regulatory agencies to foster the development of autonomous and electric vehicles for transport, most recently with the Swedish transport and traffic agencies. We will need to work closely together with numerous government agencies to realize a better future of freight, and right now the regulatory framework does not exist to support this development.”
The company recently raised $10M (approx €8.5M) in a round led by Norrsken VC. EQT Ventures, Nordic Ninja VC, Ericsson Ventures and others also participated in this round.
Operates on four different levels
Dubbed as Autonomous Electric Transport (AET), the next-gen Pods are designed to operate in different applications, ranging from AET 1 to 4. Pre-orders are now up for AET levels 1 to 4 based on individual business needs. It’s worth mentioning that, Levels 3 and 4 are available for pre-order, and will ship to customers in 2022-2023.
Einride’s AET is classified into four different types based on functionalities:
- AET 1 – Fenced: Closed facilities with predetermined routes and a controlled environment
- AET 2 – Nearby: Short shipments on routes that utilise public roads as well as fenced areas
- AET 3 – Rural: Deliveries between facilities on backroads with less traffic
- AET 4 – Highway: High-speed functionality with a top speed of 85 km/h
Einride claims that its new AET vehicle will reduce transport costs by up to 60% and CO2 emissions by 90%. The Swedish company is using Nvidia’s self-driving software to achieve Level 4 driving and can be controlled by a remote operator from a hundred miles away using its home-baked teleoperation technology.
With the launch of the new Pod, multiple Einride’s customers – Lidl Sweden and Oatly have committed to becoming launch partners, agreeing to start operating the new Pod with AET functionality in global markets. Additionally, Bridgestone, a global provider of sustainable mobility and advanced solutions, has also become a launch partner, along with Swedish battery manufacturer Northvolt.
Pre-orders, operational fees and more
Einride says both ordering and reservation can be done directly through the official website for an initial cost of $1,500 (approx €1,300) and an additional $8,500 (approx €7,200) to be invoiced following the reservation. In addition to the $10,000 reservation fee, businesses will be responsible for a monthly operational fee, depending on their AETs.
- AET 1: $18,000 (approx €15,300) per month
- AET 2: $19,000 (approx €16,000) per month
- AET 3: $20,000 (approx €17,000) per month
- AET 4: $22,500 (approx €19,200) per month
Notably, the subscription fee includes access to the Einride freight mobility platform which will coordinate and operate the Pods, overseen by Einride-certified remote operators.
Main image credits: Einride