Electric freight
Image credit: DB Schenker

German logistics multinational DB Schenker is transporting goods via a fully-driverless, electric truck on a public road in Sweden.

Swedish authorities have recently given approval for the company to use Einride’s fully electric autonomous T-Pod truck to transport goods in Jönköping, Sweden.

Both partners are hailing this as a world-first. The autonomous truck will travel in public between two nearby warehouses. It’s estimated that the T-Pod can reduce road freight operational costs by approximately 60%, compared to a human-piloted diesel vehicle.

Swedish authorities have approved the project to run until the end of 2020, however, the approval states that the 26-ton T-Pod may travel at a maximum of 5km/h instead of the 85 km/h the vehicle is capable of reaching.

The vehicle may also only travel on a specific road within an industrial area, and one employee must be assigned to each vehicle to supervise its operation. The employee is equipped with a joystick to control the vehicle should anything be amiss.

A 280 kWh battery on board should guarantee a range of 200 km.

Pär Degerman, head of engineering at Einride, says that each supervisor will soon be able to oversee up to ten autonomous trucks at a time, which will result in staff-related operational savings.

The T-Pod is equipped with six cameras and four radar systems which allow for it to be tracked to within 20 millimetres. The vehicle does not have a drivers cab, and can instead find its own target, instead replacing the cab space with additional storage for up to 15 Euro pallets instead.

DB Schenker and Einride first trialled the T-Pod at a DB Schenker site, and Einride now has order from German grocer Lidl, Svenska Retursystem – a Swedish delivery company, and five other Fortune 500 retail companies. Einride intends having 200 electric trucks deployed to logistic operations by the end of 2020.