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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the US has approved a fleet of driverless and electric trucks by Einride for research purposes. Picture: SUPPLIED
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the US has approved a fleet of driverless and electric trucks by Einride for research purposes. Picture: SUPPLIED

Swiss freight technology company Einride first introduced its cabless autonomous electric T-pod truck  in 2017. Each T-pod  measures about 7m in length, and is capable of carrying 15 standard pallets of cargo. Weighing 20 tonnes with a full load, it can cover a distance of about 200km on one full charge of its 200kWh battery pack.

Now the company has been given the green light for operation on public roads in the US. A number of autonomous trucks with no driver have rolled along public roads in US pilots, with these test vehicles either having a safety driver in the cab to take over should issues arise or being accompanied by a mobile support team.

The battery-electric Pod makes use of an on-board sensor suite comprising cameras, radars and Lidars (Light Detection and Ranging), a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges.

The cargo carriers are remotely monitored or followed by a support crew. Picture: SUPPLIED
The cargo carriers are remotely monitored or followed by a support crew. Picture: SUPPLIED

It will be monitored remotely by a human operator, which the company notes is “critical in safely scaling autonomous vehicles by keeping humans in the loop and creating jobs to fulfil a future way of shipping”.

The Einride Pod will haul goods between warehouses, taking in public roads and mixed traffic situations as it goes. 

The public road pilot is due to start in Q3 this year, in which the vehicle will merge with existing fleet operations at a GE Appliances manufacturing facility and is expected to move goods between warehouses.

“We are creating a more sustainable and efficient supply chain through increased electrification and automation in our manufacturing and distribution operations,” said GE Appliances' VP of supply chain, Bill Good.

“We’ve appreciated working with Einride in demonstrating how their Pod technology can help us accelerate achievement of that goal.

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