Autonomous electric transportation startup Einride has taken a key step in its mission to deploy autonomous cargo pods on roads for commercial operations. The Swedish startup demonstrated its technology in use with one person remotely operating two pods at once, which is a fundamental part of their vision of multiple pods ultimately being overseen by one person essentially operating as a traffic controller.
The demonstration saw an operator oversee and remotely control the two driverless pods using a steering wheel controller and a surround view display using a number of monitors. The system demo shows how a pod can request that an operator take over manual control if it encounters an issue it can’t address via its onboard automated driving computer.
It’s a clever and practical way to bridge the gap between manually driven vehicles and fully autonomous transportation, while still changing the economics of fleet logistics. With a one-to-many model, Einride would be able to offer trucking companies big advantages in terms of costs and efficiencies, increasing the number of miles that can be driven without boosting headcount requirements. Plus, the electric drivetrains of the vehicles will add up to big fuel and ecological advantages when it comes to day-to-day operations.
Einride also says that its platform has the potential to change the dynamics of the profession of trucker, since it can provide comfortable, remote operations centers that replace long weeks on the road away form home. This could open up the industry to more potential employees and recruits, which is a crucial need since trucking has typically required more new drivers than the market could supply in the U.S. over the pas few years.
Einride’s demonstration included complex maneuvers including parking and pulling out from a busy transportation hub, and shows in practice the potential of their tech. The company announced a commercial trial with Coca-Cola’s official European bottling and distribution partner at the end of last year, and is continuing to work towards broad commercialization.