Most experts believe the first industry to be upended by autonomous driving will be the trucking sector. What better use case for driverless technology than long-haul trucking where most of the driving is confined to the highway? The Swedish startup Einride certainly buys into this vision. It recently unveiled a prototype of a self-driving truck that completely lacks a steering wheel, pedals, a windshield, and, well, the whole cab really.
Einride says it aims to deliver “a complete transport system between Gothenburg-Helsingborg” by 2020. This transport system will involve 200 T-pods with associated charging stations on the route. To date, Einride says it has already filled 60 percent of the total number that will travel between Gothenburg and Helsingborg. The system’s first route will have a capacity of up to 2,000,000 pallets per year. The full-scale prototype was on-hand this week at Almedalen, a week-long Swedish political event taking place on the island of Gotland.
No doubt the image of a cabin-less truck will further stoke fears that autonomous technology will lead to enormous displacement in the workforce. In the US, 4.4 million jobs are related to driving, of which trucking jobs comprise about 2.5 million. A recent study found that automated trucks could reduce the demand for drivers as much as 50 to 70 percent in the US and Europe by 2030, with 4.4 million of the 6.4 million professional drivers on both continents rendered obsolete.
In fact, the only recent comparison to Einride’s T-pod prototype that I could recall were the killer, autonomous tractor trailers from the movie Logan. The scenes with the autonomous trucks are short, but gripping. They feature scores of menacing, cab-less trucks racing down the dystopian highways without any care for the human characters caught in their path. It’s a scary vision of the future, and one that may be closer to reality than we realize.
SOURCE: The Verge