Swedish start-up Einride driverless electric truck is seen in Jonkoping on Wednesday. Ilze Filks / Reuters
Robert Falck, the CEO of Swedish start-up Einride, said the company 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 truckmakers.
"This public road permit is a major milestone ... and it is a step to commercialising 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.
Auto alliances are on the rise to share the cost of electric and autonomous technology. Ford has vowed to invest $500 million in US electric utility truck startup Rivian.
Einride's T-Pod is 26 tonnes when full and does not have a driver cabin, which it estimates reduces road freight operating costs by around 60 percent versus a diesel truck with a driver.
Besides Schenker, Einride has orders from 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.
Freight operators are under pressure to reduce delivery times, cut emissions and face a growing shortage of drivers.
Schenker picked Einride over established truckmakers as the T-Pod straddles the two biggest sector transformations: digitisation and electrification, CEO Jochen Thewes said.
"We believe that Einride is the best concept out there for now," he said.
The T-Pod is level 4 autonomous, 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 vehicles at once.
Thewes said the rollout of 5G technology, vital for electrification, was lagging. For Schenker's pilot with Einride, Ericsson and Telia had to construct two new towers.
The T-Pod has permission to make short trips - between a warehouse and a terminal - on a public road in an industrial area in Jonkoping, central Sweden, at up to 5 km/hr, documents from the transport authority show.
Falck said Einride would apply next year for more public route permits and was planning to expand in the United States.
"Ground zero for autonomous vehicles is the United States. I think it will be the first market to scale when it comes to autonomous vehicles," he said.
A 70-year-old man here rides long distances daily with 24 smartphones on his bicycle to chase his passion: hunting Pokemons.
Smart speakers add a level of convenience to daily life, but there are also some privacy issues associated with using them. According to a recent report, it’s not just your Alexa smart speaker listening to you — Amazon employees may be listening, too.
According to the survey, slow internet, printer jams and hard drive failures are among the most frustrating of technical issues. Read on and tell us how many of these you have experienced.
With skilled fingers, physically disabled Gazan couple Nihad and Zeinab Jarboa have supported themselves by sewing finely detailed dolls and costumes.
Salar Chomany, 34, has traversed the remote region’s dramatic ridges and valleys for 12 years and turned his passion into his profession, working as a guide for energy companies exploring the region near the Iranian border.
An Indian restaurant is hoping to win back customers afraid of eating out during the pandemic with a special "COVID Curry" and "Mask Naans."