Cabinless Self-Driving Truck Completes First Public Road Test

It’s the first time a driverless, fully electric autonomous heavy-duty vehicle has run an operational commercial pilot in the U.S.

Graham Hope

November 14, 2022

2 Min Read

Einride’s dramatic cabinless, self-driving truck has successfully completed its first test on a public road in the United States.

The two-week trial marks the first time a fully electric autonomous heavy-duty vehicle without a driver on board has run in an operational commercial pilot in America.

The Swedish company’s vehicle differs from the growing numbers of self-driving trucks currently being operated in Texas and other southern states in that it has been built from the ground up to be autonomous, rather than retrofitted with tech.

As such, it has no windshield or mirrors, because there is no front cabin; that is deemed unnecessary because the vehicle drives itself, albeit with monitoring from a remote human operator. An array of radar and lidar sensors and cameras help to deliver the self-driving functionality.

After receiving approval from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration earlier this year, Einride’s pilot was conducted in tandem with partner General Electric Appliances (GEA) for two weeks in Selmer, Tennessee.

The truck supported real-time workflows and transported finished goods between GEA’s manufacturing facility and warehouse on a mixed-traffic, mile-long stretch of road. Selmer was considered a suitable location for the pilot due to its ability to provide a safe environment, and Einride and GEA liaised with county and state officials throughout.

In addition, the companies prepared extensively for the pilot, having previously worked together on predetermined routes behind closed doors in Louisville, Kentucky.

Also involved in the trial was Ericsson, which provided a private connectivity network for the vehicle and enabled the remote operator to monitor the truck.

Robert Falck, Einride’s CEO and founder, hailed the significance of the test. 

“The completion of this pilot is a momentous step in the operations of autonomous heavy-duty road freight in the US,” he said. “This shows how Einride’s new type of vehicle, one that has reshaped the future of shipping, is here today and unlocking real industry change.”

Harry Chase, senior director of Central Materials for GE Appliances, added: “Working with Einride on this pilot on public roads in Tennessee helped us better envision and understand what we need to do differently to be at the forefront of autonomous and EV implementation.”

The next target for Einride is likely to be Germany. The company recently announced plans to launch there – its first European market outside Sweden – and will seek approval to operate the self-driving truck, as well as offering its human-driven electric vehicles.

About the Author(s)

Graham Hope

Graham Hope has worked in automotive journalism in the U.K. for 26 years, including spells as editor of leading consumer news website and weekly Auto Express and respected buying guide CarBuyer.

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