Passenger vehicles are only one piece of the puzzle as transportation evolves to be cleaner and more automated. Along with people, a whole lot of goods travel by road as well. In 2014, medium- and heavy-duty trucks accounted for 23 percent of greenhouse gas emissions within the transportation sector in the US. Switching over to electric power will help reduce those emissions, and employing autonomous driving technology will make shipping safer and more efficient. It just might not be pretty, though.
Take, for instance, the T-Pod prototype from Swedish company Einride. This giant box on wheels is the company’s electric, self-driving truck, which it unveiled this week, as VentureBeat reports. It’s about 23 feet long, and can hold 15 standard pallets. Its 200-kWh battery provides up to 124 miles on a charge. There are no windows. There’s not even a place for a driver to sit.
The T-Pod is able to drive itself on highways, but when it gets onto city streets, a human takes over the driving duties remotely.
Here’s the remote driving station. The remote operation abilities of the T-pod allow drivers to monitor and operate multiple T-pods at once. pic.twitter.com/AhLWIPw1CL
— Einride (@TeamEinride) July 5, 2017
Einride is currently developing the charging infrastructure for its T-Pod, and plans to have a finished truck available to customers later this year. By 2020, the company plans to have 200 T-Pods operating on a route between the cities of Gothenburg and Helsingborg, Sweden, moving 2 million pallets of goods per year. It seems ambitious, but Einride will have to move quickly to keep up with the competition. Uber, Waymo, and fellow Swedish company Volvo are all working on driverless trucks as well.