Driverless electric truck starts deliveries on Swedish public road
JONKOPING (Reuters) - Resembling the helmet of a Star Wars stormtrooper, a driverless electric truck began daily freight deliveries on a public road in Sweden on Wednesday (May 15), in what s been described as a world first.
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.
Falck said Einride would apply next year for more public route permits and was planning to expand in the United States.
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.
As well as logistics customer DB Schenker, who picked Einride over established truckmakers, 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.
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 U.S. electric utility truck startup Rivian.
Freight operators are under pressure to reduce delivery times, cut emissions and face a growing shortage of drivers.