Autonomous EV freight developer Einride announced another key milestone today, deploying full-time, commercial operations with longtime partner, GE Appliances. The autonomous trucks are navigating between GE’s manufacturing facility and warehouse, demonstrating a case for scaled commercialization in the electric freight industry.
Today’s milestone is another notable achievement for a relatively young company like Einride, which was founded in Sweden less than eight years ago. In that time, we’ve followed much of the autonomous truck company’s progress, including partnerships with companies like Maersk and Beyond Meat, as well as expansions into new markets like Germany.
After announcing plans to set up a new headquarters in the US, we’ve seen Einride make huge strides in all-electric autonomous freight mobility the past two years. In June of 2022, the company received approval from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to begin piloting its Pod trucks – marking the first time a purpose-built autonomous, electric truck without a driver on board has received permission to operate on public US roads.
At the time, we reported that Einride’s client, GE Appliances would serve as the key partner in the initial US pilot program to both test and showcase the commercialization capabilities of the autonomous, electric Pod trucks.
18 months later, Einride has shared a progress update with GE in which the former has begun full-time autonomous truck operations between two of the latter’s facilities in Tennessee.
Einride’s autonomous trucks run daily for GE Appliances
Following a successful public road pilot program with GE Appliances last year, Einride reports that its zero-emission autonomous trucks are now operating in Selmer, Tennessee, Monday through Thursday – completing up to seven shuttles of finished goods per day.
The trucks autonomously navigate 0.3 miles between GE Appliances’ manufacturing facility and warehouse while being monitored by one of Einride’s Remote Pod Operators, who can take control of the EVs if needed. In this case, Einride’s first remote operator, Tiffany Heathcott is monitoring the trucks on-site, rather than from her usual hub in Texas.
A relatively short route to begin, yes, but still a milestone for autonomous freight, as Einride’s Trucks are successfully navigating public roads around the clock with no humans present. Henrik Green, Einride’s general manager of autonomous technologies, spoke:
We are very proud to partner with GE Appliances and be able to lead the industry in providing autonomous technology and deploying it in the strongest commercial use case today. We look forward to continuing this work to establish autonomous’ key role in transportation, both with GE Appliances and other partners across markets.
Einride states that its autonomous truck operation is part of a larger project in Selmer with GE, which also includes other industry partners with the goal of creating a freight logistics flow that is entirely automated.
For instance, GE Appliances has also partnered with TaskWatch, whose AI cameras trigger a control board that raises and lowers GE’s dock doors and dock plate, then locks the Einride truck into place. The system then notifies a robot that the autonomous truck is ready to load. The robots come from another GE partner – Slip Robotics – whose technology can autonomously load and unload the vehicles, reducing times by 80%.
Together, Einride and GE Appliances hope to demonstrate the potential of a streamlined holistic logistics system that extends well beyond autonomous, zero emissions trucks and into every single aspect of the process – from factory to delivery. Per Harry Chase, senior director of central materials at GE Appliances:
Our partnership with Einride in Selmer reflects our evolved approach to robotics and automation technology. We are moving from implementing one-off solutions addressing various challenges to creating interoperability among systems that can build consistency and streamline processes in our factories and throughout our supply chain. This implementation in Selmer is helping us reduce emissions, allowing our employees to focus on high value tasks, reducing traffic in congested areas to create a safer work environment, and eliminating some of the most challenging ergonomic tasks like climbing on and off a forklift and hooking and unhooking trailers. We believe robotics and automation technology should work with and for people to improve their jobs.
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