Not a robot car, but no driver aboard

July 05, 2017 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Robot cars are tested almost everywhere today, but this one is different: The T-pod, an electric truck from Swedish designer group Einride, is not controlled by a computer nor by a driver present in the vehicle: It is remotely controlled by an operator in a central location.

The way the vehicles are controlled and steered through the traffic may remind to the military drones deployed in Afghanistan or Irak, flown by a pilot in a high-tech data container in the United States. Unlike these military drones however, the T-pod transports goods from A to B peacefully. But where is the benefit if a driver is needed anyway? The answer: T-pod drivers can handle multiple trucks at the same time, the company argues.


With this concept – a battery-electric truck carrying 15 standard pellets with a total weight up to 20 tons over a distance up to 200 km (124 miles) – the T-pod can reduce carbon dioxide emissions (more precisely: local carbon dioxide emissions) in Sweden by as much as 60% by 2030, the group says. In addition, the vehicle is said to improve road safety and offer more cost-effectiveness in road transport.


The T-pod is about 7 meters long and has an operating weight of 20 tons. Battery capacity is 200 kWh. The fact that it is controlled by a remote operator provides the advantage of human flexibility and decision making, but the high degree of automation enables it to take advantage of a self-driving system, says Einride.


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