April 21, 2023
Electric and autonomous trucking company Einride has confirmed it is expanding into the United Kingdom.
Einride wants a share of the 1.5 billion tons of road freight already being transported in the U.K. each year and has already attracted a major commercial partner in the form of Walkers, a leading potato chips manufacturer owned by PepsiCo.
A three-year deal will see Einride’s electric trucks deployed between Walkers’ manufacturing sites in the cities of Leicester and Coventry, in the Midlands.
While the arrangement with PepsiCo is an encouraging start for Einride, the company has much more ambitious plans for the U.K.
It aims to establish a regional freight mobility grid that takes in major motorways such as the M1, M5 and M6, which link cities including London, Birmingham, Sheffield, Manchester and Bristol.
This would build on the expertise that Einride is accumulating in other markets, facilitating the emissions-free movement of freight, with charging hubs and maintenance areas. This will be underpinned by the company’s intelligent freight mobility platform Einride Saga, which is built around data and unique algorithms.
At the heart of Einride’s long-term strategy is the aim to introduce its automated functionality onto British roads. As with many countries, the U.K. is struggling with an acute driver shortage, and the company believes it can address this by leveraging its tech.
Einride has already shown what it is capable of in this respect in the U.S., where last year its dramatic autonomous truck – which has no windshield or mirrors, because it does without a front cabin – completed a two-week pilot in tandem with General Electric Appliances at the latter’s factory in Selmer, Tennessee.
A suite of radar and lidar sensors and cameras help to deliver self-driving capability on the truck, with the vehicle constantly monitored by a remote human operator.
While the autonomous truck is clearly not ready to be deployed yet in the U.K., the company is actively seeking potential partners who would be willing to trial its self-driving vehicles.
Initially, the focus would be on operations at closed-off, private manufacturing sites, before progressing to public roads linking production sites and distribution centers, as was the case in Tennessee, where the Einride truck mixed with traffic on a mile-long route.
Einride has issued an appeal for interested parties in the U.K. to contact the company via its website.
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