A fully autonomous truck has begun a daily freight route in Sweden. The company that developed the vehicle calls the operation a “world first.”
According to various European news outlets including Reuters, Einride’s T-Pod autonomous truck, which was introduced last year, has begun making daily freight deliveries on a short route between a warehouse and a terminal-- on a public road in an industrial area in Jonkoping in central Sweden-- at speeds up to 5 kph.
Einride is hailing the deployment as a “world first” for fully autonomous vehicles working without human intervention.
Robert Falck, CEO of the Swedish startup, said Einride was in partnership talks with major suppliers to help scale production and deliver orders, and the firm did not rule out future tie-ups with large truck makers.
“This public road permit is a major milestone ... and it is a step to commercializing autonomous technology on roads,” the former Volvo executive told Reuters. “Since we’re a software and operational first company, a partnership with a manufacturing company is something that we see as a core moving forward,” he said, adding he hoped to seal a deal by next year.
Falck said Einride, whose investors include ex-Daimler Asia Trucks head Marc Llistosella, is also courting investors for an ongoing Series A fundraising, often a company’s first sizable one. It previously raised $10 million.
Einride has orders for the T-Pod from Germany-based logistics service provider DB Schenker, German grocer Lidl, Swedish delivery company Svenska Retursystem, and five Fortune 500 retail companies, underpinning its ambition to have 200 vehicles in operation by the end of 2020.
The T-Pod is a Level 4 autonomous vehicle, the second highest category, and uses a Nvidia Drive platform to process visual data in real time. An operator, sitting miles away, can supervise and control up to 10 such vehicles at once.