Einride, the Swedish autonomous vehicle startup, is ready to release its massive self-driving semi vehicles to U.S. public roads later this year. Following a press release today, the company confirmed it received approval from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to operate its fleet.
The company’s purpose-built “Pod trucks,” also known as Autonomous Electric Transport (AET) trucks, will start driving autonomously on public roads but will still have a remote driver ready to take control at a moment’s notice.
Einride wants to electrify and automate the freight industry, and as you can see from the image above, its vehicle doesn’t even have room for a human driver. There’s no traditional cab in these pod trucks; instead, it’s all autonomous.
To ensure safety on the roads and scale the project as fast as Einride wants, a Remote Pod Operator will monitor the vehicle at all times. If a human operator needs to intervene, one is available. Here’s what Einride founder and CEO Robert Falck had to say:
“Other companies are retrofitting existing trucks to become autonomous, but we are doing the opposite. We are building a brand new way to do autonomous shipping from the ground up which results in this new type of vehicle design and functionality.”
The CEO then went on to mention this is a new type of vehicle never before been seen on U.S. roads, marking a major milestone for the company, and the freight industry overall. CEO Robert Falck said the technology behind its Pod truck would revolutionize transportation while creating thousands of jobs.
It’s no secret that the trucking industry has faced its share of employee shortages, so this could be a major solution. However, we’re unsure how it’ll create thousands of jobs when truck drivers are no longer needed.
The pilot program will hit our public U.S. roads later this year in partnership with GE Appliances and will interact with regular traffic to gather real-world data. Einride says the company has been training Remote Pod Operators in Texas in anticipation of its autonomous trucks hitting the streets.
GM’s Cruise and Waymo are operating driverless taxi cars in California, with other cities coming soon. That said, those only run on select streets at specific times of the day and at slow speeds. Einride’s autonomous semi trucks will likely be going down freeways at faster speeds. However, Einride said that the approval only allows the vehicle to drive at set locations and times, so we’ll have to wait and see.