Swedish company Einride has officially unveiled the first full-scale prototype of its futuristic autonomous electric truck.
First announced back in April, the T-pod is touted as being more than a simple self-driving electric truck — it’s pitched as an entirely “new transportation system,” with plans to have an active fleet of 200 T-pods running in Sweden by 2020.
Each pod is 23 feet (7 meters) in length and can hold 15 “standard” pallets, for a total weight of 20 tons when full. The pods will be able to travel 124 miles on a single charge, and Einride is currently developing compatible charging stations to power the vehicles.
One of the most notable differentiators between the T-pod and other early-stage autonomous vehicle developments is that there is no physical space inside the T-pod for a human to sit — and therefore no need for windows.
Another key facet of the truck is that it adopts a hybrid driverless approach — on highways the vehicle is designed to drive itself, but when it exits onto main city roads it switches to remote control as a human situated far away takes over. Humans are also on-hand to control several pods at once while they’re on highways should the situation require it.
The company claims that it has already filled 60 percent of the 200 T-pods that will travel on the first anticipated route between Gothenburg and Helsingborg and says there are plans afoot to transport up to 2,000,000 pallets per year.
“We’re now at a crucial time for not only the Einride business, but for the future of transport,” explained Einride CEO Robert Falck. “Through technology, we have been able to create a system for the future, but it involves bravery and dedication from people the world over, to accept that change is also their responsibility and put the T-pod system into practice.”
Elsewhere in Sweden, automotive giant Volvo has been increasingly investing in autonomous driving technology for trucks. Last month, it unveiled self-steering trucks that help sugarcane farmers improve crop yield, which followed similar tests in the mining industry, not to mention in garbage collection.