A freight tech company has received federal approval to operate an autonomous electric large vehicle on public roads. final ride has received the rights from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), marking the first time a purpose-built autonomous, driverless electric truck has been approved for use on public roads in the U.S.
The news comes as ongoing supply chain problems, a tight labor market and chronic underutilization in the global freight and shipping industry are fueling the case for commercial automation.
“This is a type of vehicle never before seen on American roads and marks an important milestone as a turning point for the future of the freight industry,” said Robert Falck, CEO and founder of Einride. “We know that our pod’s autonomous and electric technology will not only revolutionize transportation, but also create thousands of jobs and help America stay competitive.”
The Einride vehicle is different from conventional semi-trucks. The six-wheel vehicle is fully electric and compatible with standard shipping containers, but features aerodynamic bodywork and Storm Trooper color scheme. Unlike other autonomous truck projects, the design of the Einride Pod does not take into account a human driver and is instead controlled remotely by an Einride Remote Pod Operator.
The road trial permit, in partnership with General Electric Appliances (GEA), will support operational flows and demonstrate the purpose-built functionality of the Einride Pod for future commercialization. Already an international first, Einride became the first developer to launch a fully autonomous electric vehicle on public roads in Sweden in 2019, and the first to operate autonomous electric vehicles on U.S. soil through its partnership with GE Appliances last year. that we have treated†
“We are creating a more sustainable and efficient supply chain through increased electrification and automation in our manufacturing and distribution operations,” said Bill Good, Vice President of Supply Chain for GE Appliances. “We’ve been delighted to partner with Einride to show how their Pod technology can help us reach that goal faster.”
The race to put an autonomous truck into widespread use is heating up fast, with companies like Location and plus.ai Convert OEM platforms to perform autonomously or under limited driver supervision. As fuel prices rise, electric vehicles are becoming more attractive. Milk alternative brand Oatly recently committed to partnering with Einride for its freight needs, although it uses driver-driven vehicles.
The Einride/GEA road pilot will take place in the third quarter of 2022.