STOCKHOLM — While the race to perfect driver-assisted Class 8 trucks continues, Swedish tech mobility company Einride — which put the world’s first heavy-duty electric, autonomous transport vehicle on the road in 2019 — has been working to prepare its fully autonomous Pod for global commercialization.
On Oct. 8, the Einride launched its next-generation Pod, complete with new functionality and pricing, after testing and operating earlier-generation Pods at select customer sites in Sweden. According to a statement from Einride, the latest modifications to the Pod allow businesses around the world to use the units to ship products “sustainably and cost-competitively with Autonomous Electric Transport (AET) coordinated by the intelligent freight-mobility platform.” The new Pod features a refined design that makes it more aerodynamic and functional, and can now be reserved by businesses seeking to transition away from diesel-transport solutions, Einride said.
“We started this journey in 2016 with a dream to build a better future through technology,” said Robert Falck, Einride’s founder and CEO. “Years of hard work and dedication from the whole team at Einride have made us the leader in AET, and today we are taking the next step to bring our solutions to the world and ramp up the transition to a more sustainable future of transport.”
The autonomous level of most self-driving vehicles — ranging from Level 0 (purely assistive) to Level 5 (able to drive with no human assistance in any conditions) — is based on a level of human operation as a baseline. The Pod, however, has no driver’s compartment at all. Because of this, Einride developed a proprietary methodology for describing the use cases for AET, the company said.
“The Pod is a completely novel vehicle, and therefore doesn’t fit into existing standards, even for cutting-edge technologies like autonomy, said Pär Degerman, CTO of Einride. “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.”
Einride’s AET classification system ranges from Levels 1 through 5; Levels 1 through 4 are now available for preorder. AET Level 1 and 2 Pods will be shipped to customers beginning in 2021, while AET Level 3 and 4 Pods are expected to be available in 2022 or 2023.
In addition to an aerodynamic shape, the next-generation Pod features integrated high-performance exterior lighting, making it road-legal, according to Einride. The Pod’s rear lights have been extended the entire height of the cargo bay for maximum visibility for other road users, improving safety and emphasizing the functionality of the design.
“The design of the new Pod reflects our changing identity as a company,” said Linnéa Kornehed, CMO and co-founder of Einride. “With our recent brand identity project, a central focus was on the symbiotic relationship between software and hardware in freight mobility. It’s a symbol of our accomplishments in pioneering the category of AET, but also emphasizes our commitment to developing software solutions that make the transition to sustainable freight seamless.”
The cost to reserve one of the Pods is $10,000. Once received, businesses will be responsible for an operational fee ranging from $18,000 to $22,500 per month, depending on the Pod’s AET level.