A single operator and up to 10 autonomous electric vehicles under control? Einride says it's coming.

Swedish startup Einride, engaged in autonomous electric vehicles, has demonstrated for the very first time its one operator, multiple vehicle capability at a customer site.

The company has used two of its electric T-pod vehicles, which can drive autonomously for most of the time (see more info here), but from time to time might require intervention from the operator to complete more difficult maneuvers.

The innovation here is that a single operator can control both vehicles remotely, if required. The number of vehicles per single operator is expected to increase to several or even up to 10 ultimately.

"For the first time, Einride is publicly showcasing its one operator to multiple vehicle capability in action at a customer site. This technology sets the precedent for a future where one remote operator can take responsibility for several self-driving Pods, monitoring them when in autonomous mode and taking active control of a vehicle for unforeseen or more complicated maneuvers, such as parking at a loading dock."

Making such a system is not a trivial thing, because it not only has to work in real-time, but also remain secure from hackers, as Pär Degerman, CTO of Einride, explains:

"The remote operation and oversight of autonomous vehicles requires robust real-time video and data transmission, managed through a secure channel over often insecure infrastructure. With this milestone, we are laying the technical foundation for swift and easy switching between vehicles as well as the ongoing scaling of this functionality. Not only can we switch between monitored vehicles, but also between operators in different geographical locations, increasing the flexibility of our system exponentially,”.

Einride T-pod

Einride autonomous EVs are already quite volume- and cost-efficient as there is no cabin for the driver. If there will be a single operator per 10 vehicles, the costs should decrease significantly.

"As autonomous electric transport (AET) vehicles such as the Einride Pod are introduced into a freight network, transport managers will be able to employ operators who will monitor and control fleets of driverless vehicles from a remote drive station, eventually expanding up to as many as ten per operator. This has the potential to increase the average work day for a fleet of vehicles from 8 to 24 hours with optimized charging, loading, and unloading schedules, increasing productivity up to 200 percent while reducing the hourly cost of transport by 30 percent. Additionally, many tedious or time-consuming tasks will be a thing of the past for operators, as he or she will not have to wait for loading and unloading, refueling or recharging to oversee and operate other vehicles.

Expanding the driver-to-vehicle ratio from one-to-one to one-to-many also has the potential to exponentially improve fleet efficiency in terms of cost, time, and sustainability. Currently with Einride’s Freight Mobility Platform, shippers are able to track their entire fleets in real time and optimize routes and schedules for cost and emissions reduction. The platform also provides recommendations on where to introduce low- or zero-emissions transport options into the network."

"Beyond the cost and sustainability benefits, this innovation takes one step further in transforming what it means to be a trucker. In place of long, tiresome, and potentially dangerous hours on the road, remote operators will have a more stable, safe, and regular work environment. This fundamental shift will be crucial in addressing the systematic problems in the trucking industry, such a shortage of over 51,000 truckers and a gender split that is only 6 percent female in the U.S.

In the future, operators will be employed by customers and operational partners, relying on the Einride Freight Mobility Platform for optimization and execution of electric and autonomous operations."

Robert Falck, Founder and CEO of Einride said:

“The cost of transport continues to increase by 2 to 3 percent year-over-year, while the average capacity utilization of any given transport vehicle remains around 25 percent. With the ability to monitor and control multiple AET vehicles with just one remote operator, we can dramatically improve the cost efficiency of every vehicle in a fleet, not to mention significantly reducing emissions and improving the work environment for truck drivers.”.

Gallery: Einride T-pod

Einride T-pod specs:

  • Loading capacity 15 euro-pallets
  • Payload 20 tons
  • Range 200 km (124 miles) on one charge
  • Top speed 85 km/h (53 mph) (electronically limited)
  • Battery capacity 200 kWh
  • Size 7 x 2.5m (approximately)
  • Weight 26 tons fully loaded

Einride T-log specs:

  • Loading capacity of 16 tons
  • Range 200 km (124 miles) on one charge
  • Top speed 85 km/h (53 miles) (electronically limited)
  • Battery capacity 300 kWh
  • Size 7.3 x 2.5m (approximately)
  • Weight 26 tons fully loaded