Autonomous trucks are coming to U.S. roads faster than self-driving cars. Einride AB this week said it has received approval from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to operate its Einride Pods on U.S. public roads.
The Stockholm, Sweden-based freight technology company plans to conduct a public road pilot with its Autonomous Electric Transport (AET). The electric and autonomous vehicle does not have a cabin for a driver and is instead monitored by a Remote Pod Operator.
“This is a type of vehicle that has never before been seen on U.S. roads and marks a major milestone as a turning point for the future of the freight industry,” stated Robert Falck, founder and CEO of Einride. “We know the autonomous and electric technology of our pod will not only revolutionize transportation, but also create thousands of jobs and help America stay competitive.”
Einride keeps humans in the loop
Founded in 2016, Einride claimed that it was the first company to deploy an autonomous, electric freight vehicle on a road in 2019. It has provided shipping fleets, charging and connectivity networks, and its Saga operating system in Europe. Last year, it opened a U.S. headquarters in New York.
The Einride Pod will operate on public roads with mixed traffic while executing real-life workflows, said Einride. This will include the movement of goods and coordinating with teams at various warehouses for loading and unloading.
A Remote Pod Operator will be remotely monitoring the vehicle at all times. The company described the role as the “first of its kind,” keeping humans “in the loop” to safely scale autonomous vehicles and create jobs for the future of shipping.
GE Appliances to participate in public pilot
With this approval, Einride will conduct a public road pilot to support operational flows for customer GE Appliances (GEA), a Haier company. The partners began operating the AETs at GEA's Appliance Park campus in Louisville, Ky., in November 2021.
The public road test is intended to demonstrate the Einride Pod’s purpose-built functionality for future commercialization. Einride and GE Appliances added that their pilot of the remotely monitored, driverless truck is an industry first for this new type of vehicle.
The pilot, which will take place in the third quarter of 2022, will be done at a GEA manufacturing facility to complement existing operations.
“We are creating a more sustainable and efficient supply chain through increased electrification and automation in our manufacturing and distribution operations,” said Bill Good, vice president of supply chain at GE Appliances. “We’ve appreciated working with Einride in demonstrating how their Pod technology can help us accelerate achievement of that goal.”
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