Driving trucks from the couch with beer in hand, it could happen in the near future. The Swedish start-up Einride is developing a new kind of autonomous truck, which can be controlled remotely, if necessary, by operators installed in what resembles simulators. Technological advances that could well redefine the profession of truck driver.
In the future (in confinement or not), a truck driver could very well steer several trucks from a control center, or even from his home. For him, there is no need to travel thousands of kilometers each week. The same could be true for delivery people in vans as well as operators at production sites. All this would be possible thanks to the evolution of means of communication, as well as the advent of the autonomous vehicle.
In a video published on April 7, the Swedish startup Einride proves to us that this future might not be that far away. We see two vehicles directed at a distance by an operator. This is installed in what looks like a latest generation simulator. Except that everything is true here. Five panoramic screens display what it would be possible to see from the truck’s cockpit, if it had one, as well as at the rear.
Autonomous on short circuits
Because the machines are above all autonomous and able to circulate without human intervention over short or medium distances, as long as the journeys remain the same. If necessary, for complicated maneuvers for example, such as backing up or for parking, the vehicle calls on a person who will take over, using a steering wheel. Thus, a “driver” can deal with two trucks simultaneously.
“The remote operation and monitoring of autonomous vehicles requires real-time video and data transmission, via secure channels. Our system will allow an operator to quickly and easily switch from one vehicle to another, which will improve the flexibility of the system “, explains in a press release Pär Degerman, technical director of Einride.
“Each year, the cost of transport increases by 2 to 3%, while on average, vehicles are only used at 25% of their capacity,” adds in the same press release Robert Falck, CEO of Einride. “By being remotely controlled by a single operator, each vehicle will see its profitability improve. The working conditions of drivers will also improve.”
From one operator for two trucks, Einride hopes to ultimately improve this ratio to one in ten. If this kind of program were to democratize, it could well redefine, even make disappear, the trade of truck driver. Still, the future 5G and little sisters should be available everywhere!