Einride Unveils New Driverless Trucks
Swedish AV startup Einride recently unveiled a new vehicle type it calls Autonomous Electric Transport (AET), which the company hopes to have on the road delivering freight by 2021. At the launched, Einride explained that AET will come in four levels: AET 1 and AET 2 have top speeds of 18 mph, weigh 26 tons, have payloads of 16 tons, and a battery range of 80-110 miles. AET 3 and AET 4 have similar weight and payload capacity but with top speeds of 28 mph and 53 mph, respectively. The aerodynamic, cab-less pods come without steering wheels, pedals, or windshields.
The company told media that its trucks operate at Level 4 autonomy, meaning they can drive themselves under most conditions. However, Einride’s approach to autonomy does feature remote operators, who can take control of the vehicle when the driving conditions require human intervention, such as backing up in a complex environment or making a difficult left turn. Prior to the pandemic, Einride had planned to hire its first remote drivers by the end of the year. They now are expected to come on board in 2021.
“I feel very confident that in the next 12-to-24 months, you’re going to see self-driving vehicles, with no person in the vehicle, moving people on a daily basis.”
Voyage CEO Predicts Driverless Operations In 1-2 Years—But Not In Cities
In an interview with Bloomberg, Oliver Cameron, the CEO of AV startup Voyage, predicted that daily AV operation can happen in the retirement communities his company is currently testing in, as well as other planned communities and smaller towns and cities within 1-2 years. “I feel very confident that in the next 12-to-24 months, you’re going to see self-driving vehicles, with no person in the vehicle, moving people on a daily basis… Will that happen in New York City? Probably not. But it will be happening in regions like the regions we serve within 12-to-24 months.”
Cameron noted that the challenges posed by dense cities, however, means imminent operations are highly unlikely. “The ugly truth is that self-driving technology remains years away from being safe and scalable in dense cities,” he said, adding that “The state-of-the-art in machine learning and robotics is just not yet up to the challenge.”
International Auto Companies Acquire Stakes In UK AV Startup
The venture capital arms of GM and China’s SAIC have acquired minority stakes in Envisics, a startup developing hologram technology for autonomous driving systems. In addition to other investors, GM Ventures, SAIC Capital, Hyundai Mobis invested $50 million into the British company, which builds hardware and software that use a vehicle’s windshield to project graphics and information that keys drivers into how the car’s autonomous system sees the road ahead.
GM plans to implement Envisics technology in the upcoming electric Cadillac Lyriq SUV, which will have an autonomous feature that is described by GM as a hands-free driving system. The ability of drivers to understand how the autonomous system is working could help them know when to step in to take control, said GM Ventures President Matt Tsien. “Augmented reality displays really help provide some of that interaction between the vehicle and the driver,” he said.