Eager to know more about Einride pods
Some of my driverless visions keep getting closer. Maybe.
Einride is a company that develops driverless pods, that is all-electric transport vehicles with no space for a driver onboard:
Deploying pods and their controlling platform, says Einride, would reduce air pollution, “significantly reduce freight costs, dramatically improve road safety, and increase productivity by 200 percent over traditional diesel transport.”
Short story of Einride
In 2017, Einride was presented as a company that could “soon disrupt the transportation industry”. In May 2021, Einride raised $110M to autonomous truck development, including from the world’s largest shipper, Moller-Maersk. But one week ago, Einride asked for arbitration over some dispute with one of its fundraisers. I wish them well, sincerely.
What seems missing in Einride pods
There is one thing I do not like in Einride pods, or more exactly in their marketing, and (unless I missed something big, but even this says the same (August 2021)) it’s something really simple.
Einride pods are not autonomous vehicles. Sure, they have no driver’s cabin onboard, but they are driven remotely. Their own website says so, albeit not directly (emphasis mine):
The Pod is the first all-electric, “totally autonomous” transport vehicle to operate on a public road in the world. With remote monitoring and operation capability, our engineers and trained operators can oversee and control [multiple] Pods on-demand, with no need for a human driver onboard:
Autonomous driving, this is not. Again: if I am missing something big, please tell me, and I’ll make a follow-up post. But if those pods are really autonomous as in that picture and statements, I really can’t understand how anyone can call them “autonomous”.
Security, salaries, hijacking?
While I am at this, I also have to say that the idea of one driver simultaneously falling asleep “at the wheel” of multiple trucks simultaneously, or being overruled by cybercriminals, does not make me sleep well. I also hope that anyone paid to drive e.g. four trucks simultaneously will be paid four times more than a drivers of single trucks. Of course, none of these issues is specific of Einride. They affect any kind of remotely driven vehicle, or even really autonomous ones.
What I DO like
All this said, there is a lot I like about pods like the ones that Einride makes. I consider such pods much more realistic, and necessary, than many other “solutions” for future movement of both goods and people. My reasons for saying so include: