Einride, the Swedish autonomous trucking startup, unveiled a new vehicle type that the company hopes to have on the road delivering freight starting in 2021. The vehicles, dubbed Autonomous Electric Transport (AET), came in four different variations. And much like Einride’s previous prototypes, they come without steering wheels, pedals, windshields, and, in general, no cab at all.
Einride has been in the business of releasing interesting, eye-catching prototype vehicles since it was founded in 2016. There was the cab-less T-Pod, released in 2017, four of which are operating on public roads hauling freight for Oatly, the Swedish food producer. A year later, the company unveiled the T-Log, built to be more powerful than its predecessor for the job of (you guessed it) hauling tons of giant tree logs. Now it has a next-generation vehicle that it hopes it can put into production.
Einride’s also been engaged with the less glamorous part of the job, which is testing, validating, and seeking regulatory approval for its vehicles, all of which are electric and can be controlled remotely by a human operator, in addition to operating autonomously without human intervention. The company has yet to reveal its plans for production and manufacturing.
Design-wise, the AET vehicles look almost identical to Einride’s Pod (previously T-Pod) prototype: sleek, white, cab-less pods with smooth lines and an otherworldly feel. Einride CEO Robert Falck said the AET is more aerodynamic than previous iterations, which will help when the company starts to scale up its manufacturing. “When you nail a design the first time, why reinvent the wheel?” Falck said.
The new AET vehicles come in four levels. The first two — AET 1 and AET 2 — have top speeds of 30 km/h (18 mph), weigh 26 tons, have payloads of 16 tons, and a battery range
For the past four years, Swedish startup Einride has captured interest, investment and even a few customer contracts for its unusual-looking pods — electric and autonomous vehicles that are designed to carry freight. But progress in developing, testing and validating autonomous vehicles — particularly ones that don’t even have space for a driver and rely on teleoperations — is an expensive and time-consuming task.
The company has made some progress with its T-Pod vehicles; four of them are on public roads today and even carry freight for customer Oatly, the Swedish food producer. Now, a year after raising $25 million, the company said it has another $10 million coming in from its existing investors.
The announcement comes ahead of a new vehicle the Einride will unveil October 8. Not much is known about the vehicle; Einride has only supplied a short and obscure teaser video.
Einride said the $10 million in new funding was led by impact fund Norrsken VC and included participation from EQT Ventures fund, Nordic Ninja VC and Ericsson Ventures. Norrsken VC is also joining Einride’s advisory board.
The capital will be used to fast track the official launch of its Einride Pods, the company said. Einride acknowledged that startups in AI and robotics were upended, and even shuttered altogether, in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The company contests that demand for contactless delivery options — not coincidentally the kind it hopes to provide — has grown because of COVID-19. Einride said it’s maintained a “strong stream of new partnerships,” including onboarding partners Oatly and supermarket chain Lidl as well as launching a freight mobility platform designed to give customers information on shipping volume, distance driven and associated emissions and help pick the most efficient routes.
“There is both a lot of excitement and a