Swedish freight technology company Einride AB announced today at the South by Southwest Conference its first remote Pod operator—long time trucking veteran Tiffany Heathcott.
Remote Pod operators will observe and support Einride Pods that are operating in automated drive mode to ensure they run optimally and safely as they ship goods on behalf of Einride’s customers, the company said.
In order to become a remote Pod operator at Einride, operators go through a full trainee program, which was created and accredited by Einride personnel.
A supporting hand
Heathcott is the first to complete the company's training, but the company said the remote operators team is expanding beyond Heathcott and will continue to scale alongside its growing autonomous operations.
Einride Global PR Manager Maja Ruhbach told Robotics 24/7 the company has brought on one additonal operator who is going through training.
“The number of operators we will bring on will scale with our growing number of operational pods with customers to ensure proper allocation of operators to pods,” she wrote in an email.
Given the pods’ autonomous capabilities, the operators will not drive the vehicles but instead will be able to provide operational support to multiple pods at a time via automated driving systems, creating further efficiency that will ultimately allow for increased autonomy, said the company.
“When I came across the opportunity to partner with Einride in this new role, I saw that this was one of the biggest steps I could play a part in in creating a better and more sustainable future for the next generation and the planet,” Heathcott stated. “Once other truck drivers are able to see what the remote approach to shipping can do for them, both on a professional and personal level, I’m confident that more and more will want to take part in creating lasting change.”
The process includes supervised training with the Einride Pod and Remote Pod Operation Station where operators are trained and tested on all the various operating modes and safety protocols, the company said. All U.S. Remote Pod Operators are also required to have an Active CDL license B class or above in addition to previous commercial driving experience.
The company's flatbed Pod vehicle has SAE Level 4 autonomoy and is able to drive in highway and cites, as well as rural streets and fenced areas. In November 2021, the company announced that it had launched its transportation service in the U.S.
A potentially safer alternative
In contrast to conventional trucking, remote operation will be safer, involve more regular hours, and provide a more hospitable work environment for operators, the company claims.
“As we continue to scale our autonomous and electric solutions, we knew that we also needed to look at the jobs that are required to support safe and scalable implementation and we saw a market gap for this kind of role,” stated Robert Falck, CEO and founder of Einride.
Einride's growth plans
Founded in 2016, Einride is a technology company that operates autonomous electric freight vehicles. It claims that it was first company to have an electric autonomous truck on public roadways in 2019. It is based in Stockholm.
Following the official U.S. expansion in November of 2021, Einride has opened up a regional office in Austin, with plans to officially establish a U.S. headquarters in New York. Regional offices in the Bay Area and Los Angeles will open later in 2022.