Ericsson, Einride, Telia connecting self-driving trucks with 5G
Einride self-driving truck
Credit: Ericsson/Einride

Ericsson, Einride, Telia connecting self-driving trucks with 5G

Networking provider Ericsson and Swedish telco Telia, in partnership with autonomous transportation company Einride, are demonstrating how driverless trucks can be enhanced with 5G technology at the DB Schenker facility in Jönköping, Sweden.

The global relationship aims to create a more sustainable transport ecosystem by connecting electric, autonomous vehicles.

Einride’s T-pod, a driverless, electric vehicle that the company claims can operate with the safety and reliability needed to bring autonomous trucks onto public roads, will host Ericsson’s 5G technology.

The T-pod currently only operates at DB Schenker’s logistics facilities in Jönköping, Sweden. Despite this, the new collaboration claims Einride’s T-pod and autonomous transport system, powered by 5G, can potentially replace more than 60 percent of today’s transport with a cost-competitive and sustainable alternative.

Ewald Kaiser, Chief Operating Officer, DB Schenker, said:

This pilot is a milestone in the transition to an intelligent transportation system which will be safe, cost-efficient and sustainable. Autonomous, all-electric trucks on public roads is not a dream any more – it’s happening right now.

Going green

It is thought that a shift to all-electric road freight transportation has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by 90 percent and it will also eliminate emissions of harmful nitrogen oxides and ultrafine soot particles.

The partnership will see Ericsson’s Radio System and Cloud Core for 5G, provide the required connectivity technology, supported by Telia Company’s 5G Partner Program.

Ericsson claims the project is the start of a paradigm shift for the transport industry and the way it works with 5G, offering high data speeds and ultra-low latency, and taking fleet management to the next level – making it fully connected and automated.

Robert Falck, CEO and Founder of Einride, said:

Our driving mission is to lead the sustainable transition of road freight transportation. 5G provides the connectivity and reliability we need to safely introduce the T-pod onto public roads, paving the way for a 90 percent reduction in CO2 emissions and the elimination of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions.

Internet of Business says

In the US, American Trucking Association (ATA) figures from 2016 revealed that trucks moved over 70 percent of the nation’s freight by weight, through 3.5 million truck drivers. This resulted in over 450 billion miles travelled by all registered trucks.

Therefore, self-driving, electric freight vehicles stand to cause huge disruption, to both jobs and environmental concerns, over the next few decades.

The move to electric will come, once battery specifications can meet the long range requirements, charge points are readily available, and charge times reasonable. This will go a long way to combat the production of greenhouse gases by global supply chains.

However, the move to driverless trucks will create as many social challenges as it will technical. While AI can more easily be promoted to augment employees in many industries, the absence of a driver in a lorry is a vivid representation of job losses.

Others will argue that there is a growing need for truck drivers at present, fuelled by growing populations and consumerism, including the ATA’s own figures.

Waymo, the offshoot of Google’s self-driving car project, launched its own self-driving truck project in March 2018, and is testing on roads in California and Arizona.

Despite the scale of the emerging market, Uber closed its self-driving truck division earlier this year, to focus on its autonomous car development. Probably a wise decision, given the rocky road travelled so far.