From commercial loads in Arizona and a dedicated lane in Michigan to Swedish harbors, autonomous trucks are rolling out. Einride AB today announced the global availability of its Autonomous Electric Transport, or AET vehicles, the next generation of its Einride Pods. The Stockholm-based company said the AET vehicles are developed for SAE Level 4 autonomy and are available for preorder.
Einride was founded in 2016 and has been developing electric and remotely operated vehicles. It claimed that its AET vehicles can help businesses reduce transport costs by up to 60% and carbon dioxide emissions by up to 90%. The company raised $10 million earlier this month.
“The AET’s unique architecture and intelligent routing software allows for safe operations without a driver, with additional proprietary remote-operations technology to enable scaling of operators per vehicle,” said the company. The vehicles use cameras, lidar, and radar for 360-degree awareneess, and they do not require platooning.
The AET vehicles can also connect to charging stations on their own for an effective range of 130 to 180 km (80.7 to 111.8 mi.), said Einride. They weigh 26 tons and have a capacity of 15 pallets or a 16-ton payload.
The autonomous vehicles will come in four models. The first two are designed for closed, fenced facilities, harbors, and public roads. AET 3 and 4, which Einride plans to make available in 2023, are intended for larger warehouses and high-speed, long-distance highways.
Robert Falck, the founder and CEO of Einride, answered the following questions from The Robot Report:
Einride applies design lessons to Pods
What were some lessons that you learned from the Einride Pods that you applied to the design of the Autonomous Electric Transport?
Falck: Our new design is more aerodynamic and better suited for commercialization worldwide. In developing the AET functionality model, we learned a great deal from our pilot programs with customers about the actual use cases for autonomous and electric transport and how best to implement this technology going forward.
How much feedback did you get from the drivers/remote operators and customers?
Falck: Our operators and customers are integral to the innovation process, giving us ground-level insights on what works, what doesn’t work, and what they’d like to see. We have integrated all of this insight into our plans for the next-generation Pod.
What’s the biggest difference between the Pods and the AETs?
Falck: The Pod is the vehicle itself, which will operate at a particular AET level — 1 to 4 — based on our customers’ transport network needs. One partner could have eight Pods in their network, for example, with two each operating at AET Levels 1 to 4, so two AET 4s on the highway on a regular basis and two AET 1s only at closed facilities.
Why did you decide to come out with four AET models rather than two or three?
Falck: Similar to the widely-accepted SAE J3016 levels of autonomous operation, the AET model follows a proprietary framework developed in-house that instead designates autonomous functionality by operational design domain (ODD), because all of our Pods operate at SAE Level 4 autonomy.
It has five levels to best capture the different environments and conditions transport vehicles operate in that require a certain amount of autonomous functionality. Closed shipping facilities, or AET 1, are much less complicated than highway environments, or AET 4.
AET vehicles target new markets
For AET 1 and 2, do facilities operators need to add any technology or rearrange their operations?
Falck: For remote operation, Pods will require a stable 5G connection, but the majority of transport operations in AET 1 and 2 environments can be conducted with autonomous drive.
Do the AET 3 and 4 need any special permissions to run on Swedish roads?
Falck: Yes, unmanned autonomous transport vehicles require special permits to operate on Swedish roads and abroad. We are working with the requisite authorities both here and in select international forums on legislation related to autonomous transport vehicles.
Autonomous Electric Transport specs
|Specification||AET 1||AET 2||AET 3||AET 4|
|Speed||>30 km/h||>30 km/h||45 km/h||85 km/h|
|Remote operations/autonomous drive||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Operating domain||Inside fence||Nearby||Rural||Highway|
|Regulatory approval||No||Yes||Not needed||Yes|
When will your existing customers be using the AETs?
Falck: We are already operating AET 1 and 2 Pods at customer sites in Sweden, notably DB Schenker in Jönköping.
Next-generation AET 1 and 2 Pods that are pre-ordered now will be delivered to customers in the next two years, while AET 3 and 4 Pods will start shipping in 2022 to 2023.
Are you offering the AETs directly for sale, or are you offering them as a service?
Falck: The business model is Autonomous Electric Transport as a service. You pay a monthly subscription fee for the turnkey solution of operating one or multiple Pods including the hardware, as well as access to the freight mobility platform for coordination and operation.
How much of an electric vehicle infrastructure still needs to be built out in Europe?
Falck: Europe’s electric vehicle infrastructure is coming along well in certain areas, but it also needs to be built up specifically for the use of electric transport if we are to reduce the massive impact that the freight industry has on global emissions currently. This is something our platform is designed to address, and that we are working with both private and public partners to develop.