Scandinavian freight pods revamped

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Swedish autonomous freight specialist Einride has launched the latest generation of its autonomous delivery Pod, following a test and pilot scheme at selected customer sites in Sweden. The company states that the new Pod features a refined design, making it more aerodynamic and functional and also preparing it for wide-scale production and commercialization.

“We started this journey in 2016 with a dream to build a better future through technology. Years of hard work and dedication from the whole team at Einride have made us the leader in AET [autonomous electric transport], 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,” said Robert Falck, CEO and founder of Einride.

Most self-driving vehicles are designated by SAE J3016 levels of autonomy, ranging from purely assistive (Level 0) to fully autonomous, able to drive anywhere on their own under any conditions (Level 5). However, these standards rely on some level of human operation as a baseline. The Pod has no driver’s compartment whatsoever, so Einride notes it was necessary to develop a proprietary methodology for describing the use cases for AET.

“The Pod is a completely novel vehicle, and therefore doesn’t fit into existing standards, even for cutting-edge technologies like autonomy. 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,” explained Pär Degerman, CTO of Einride.

The AET classification system ranges from Levels 1 to 5; Levels 1 to 4 are available for pre-order based on individual business needs. AET 1 (Fenced) is ideal for closed facilities with predetermined routes that are best suited for fully autonomous operation. AET 2 (Nearby) includes closed facility operation, but adds the capability to traverse public roads over short distances between destinations. AET 1 and 2 Pods are available for reservation now, and will begin shipping to customers next year.

AET 3 (Rural) should take the Pod’s functionality to the next level, allowing operation on backroads and less busy main roads between facilities, at a maximum operating speed of 45km/h. Finally, AET 4 (Highway) includes fully autonomous operation on freeways and other major roads at up to 85km/h. The company has placed Level 3 and 4-capable Pods on pre-order, and hopes they will ship to customers in 2022-2023.

Along with the release of the new Pod, multiple current Einride customers have committed to becoming launch partners, agreeing to start operating the new Pods with AET functionality in global markets. Lidl Sweden, one of Einride’s original partners, has signed on for multiple Pods; Swedish plant-based milk and dairy product producer Oatly has also agreed to add autonomous operation on top of existing electric truck operations. In addition to Einride’s current collaborators, Bridgestone and Swedish battery manufacturer Northvolt have agreed to become partners.

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he oversees Automotive Powertrain Technology and Professional Motorsport World magazines as editor.

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