This Week in Pods

Remote-controlled, self-driving pod trucks.

Screenshot from Logan, via Movies With Mikey’s excellent analysis.

We all knew this was coming. We just didn’t know they were going to call them “pods”—although, to be fair, the word “pod” is so hot right now. (We added Es to things, then we added Is, then we took out the vowels, and now the best way to signify that something is FROM THE FUTURE is to call it a pod.)

Einride debuts prototype T-pod, an autonomous electric truck that can also be controlled remotely

Each pod is 23 feet (7 meters) in length and can hold 15 “standard” pallets, for a total weight of 20 tons when full. The pods will be able to travel 124 miles on a single charge, and Einride is currently developing compatible charging stations to power the vehicles.

One of the most notable differentiators between the T-pod and other early-stage autonomous vehicle developments is that there is no physical space inside the T-pod for a human to sit — and therefore no need for windows.

Yes, the T-pod autonomous trucks appear to be a lot like the trucks from Logan, especially the “no windows” part. Removing both the windows and the cab makes a very clear statement: there is no room for a human inside this truck. (Except, of course, for the trucks that will inevitably be repurposed as housing.)

There is, however, room for a human to control the truck remotely:

Another key facet of the truck is that it adopts a hybrid driverless approach — on highways the vehicle is designed to drive itself, but when it exits onto main city roads it switches to remote control as a human situated far away takes over. Humans are also on-hand to control several pods at once while they’re on highways should the situation require it.

Now I’m curious: are the human drivers using joysticks or steering wheels? (This is a serious question, by the way. If you’ve got any insight on remote-controlled autonomous truck driving, I am ready for it.)

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