The future of Material Handling Logistics: Self-Driving Trucks

Self-driving cars are taking over the roads and changing the automobile industry.

What you may not know, is there exists a prototype Self-Driving vehicle being developed by Einride, a Swedish company. The vehicle that they are developing is a Self-Driving truck called the T-pod.

The T-Pod is more like a giant box on wheels, 23 feet long and has a capability of transporting 15 standard pallets. Powered by a 200kWh battery, the T-pod has a 124mile (200 km) range on a single charge. It is a windowless truck and has no place for a driver to sit. It has been designed to drive completely autonomously on the highways. But when it comes to the city streets, a human takes over the controls and operates it remotely.

According to the American Trucking Association, the Material Handling industry will face a shortage of about 174,500 truck drivers by 2024. The Self-Driving trucks, like T-pods, have a potential to fill up this void and make the trucking industry even more reliable. This will also significantly cut the supply chain costs as the companies will not have to pay the drivers anymore.

By 2020, Einride expects to have 200 T-pods operating in Sweden, shipping around 2 million pallets of cargo a year. Here in North America, the story is no different. Uber, Tesla, Amazon, Google, and several other private tech companies with backing form large automobile manufacturers are all working hard to disrupt the trucking industry. While some of these initiatives involve other methods of fueling trucks, such as hydrogen, or regular gas (combined with platooning to save fuel), the era of autonomous freight seems inevitable here in North America. While Self-Driving cars can be seen as a novelty–helping humans get around without physically driving it, Self-Driving trucks have the potential to completely revolutionize the entire logistics industry.

While many companies are proactively developing Self-Driving trucks to take the lead, the governments around the world are reviewing the regulations for Self-Driving vehicles to get on public roads. Nonetheless, it’s just a matter of a few years when we’ll actually see a T-pod or tractor trailer with no driver in the front seat cruising by.


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