Truck driving becomes a desk job at Einride, the Swedish company whose electric Pods now roam the freight yards at GE Appliances’ 750-acre campus in Louisville, Ky.
Why is this important: The company’s fleet of electric and autonomous trucks could be a model for the commercial freight industry, which faces a shortage of truck drivers and demands to reduce its carbon emissions.
How it works: Einride trucks do not have a cabin, which means there is no room for a driver on board.
- Instead, the trucks operate autonomously, with a remote truck driver – or âpod operatorâ – monitoring the ride behind a computer screen, ready to take over if necessary.
- For example: a teleoperator could take the wheel virtually to navigate a construction zone or handle last minute instructions in a dynamic loading dock.
- The goal is for remote drivers to monitor and control up to 10 Pods at a time, CEO and founder Robert Falck told Axios.
Have a “human in the loop” allows technology to be adopted more easily – in stages, he says.
- Trucks will start at private freight stations and then move gradually to public roads and highways.
- “Our ambition is to have at least 90% autonomy for the different routes,” he said.
- Yes, but: US regulations currently do not allow such trucks on public roads, which means their practical use may be limited for some time.
Driving the news: Einride this week announced it is setting up US operations in New York City and showcased a US version of its Einride Pod and a new Flatbed Pod.
- It plans to create more than 2,000 jobs in the United States within five years, including remote Pod operators.
- Remote drivers will benefit from better pay, safer working conditions “and much better coffee,” which could make the job more attractive, Falck said.