Autonomous trucks will revolutionise transport? DB Schenker reveals the details of the tests of a truck without a cab.
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The potential of the latest technology exceeds the wildest expectations of the transport industry. The Swedish start-up recently presented the possibilities of its invention by steering a truck from a distance of several thousand kilometres. The vehicle is being tested by the German operator DB Schenker.
During this year’s MWC telecom exhibition in Barcelona, Swedish start-up Einride presented a system that allowed remote control of a truck located in Gothenburg. For this purpose, all that was needed was control equipment consisting of, among other things, a steering wheel for computer games, a set of screens that transmit the view from the 6 cameras on the truck, and a high-speed Internet connection (5G) provided by Ericsson. Such equipment opens up incredible new opportunities for the industry, especially in the face of a serious shortage of drivers.
According to Einride’s declarations, remote control of the vehicle will help improve drivers’ working conditions, and one person will be able to drive several cars at the same time.
DB Schenker and T-Pod
Einride presented its invention in April 2017. The T-Pod is a seven-metre-long vehicle that consists almost exclusively of a load area. It can hold 15 standard pallets inside and weighs 20 tons including the load.
In April 2018, German logistics giant DB Schenker announced that T-Pod would be carrying out deliveries for the company in Sweden as part of testing. The pilot project was launched at the end of 2018.
According to Ewald Kaiser, a member of the DB Schenker Management Board, electric mobility and autonomous driving are two key technologies that will revolutionise the global transport and logistics market.
T-Pod on Swedish roads
As the Swedish branch of the German operator, DB Schenker informed the editorial team of Trans.INFO, in March this year the Swedish Transport Agency agreed to the testing of the vehicle on public roads.
T-Pod moves between two logistics operator locations, which are partly connected by a public road. The vehicle is constantly monitored via the communication system. Currently, it can cover a distance of 200 km without charging, but as a result of development work this distance is to be increased,” explains DB Schenker.
The vehicle is monitored by the operator, who can take control of it at any time from the command centre and react in critical situations.
Management can be carried out from a facility that is hundreds of kilometres away from the route, but it is essential that there are no delays in communication between the centre and the vehicle. The operator may also be a disabled person, but they must have appropriate driving licenses,” explains the Swedish branch.
According to the Swedish branch of DB Schenker, the project offers an opportunity to create a sustainable transport system, reduce carbon emissions and increase cost efficiency.
It may also help to reduce the shortage of drivers, but at the moment it is hard to imagine that the demand for employees in this area will decrease,” adds the company.