Tiffany is a trailblazer for the future of freight, the world’s first Remote Pod Operator, and the first truck driver to take her profession remote. Recently, she got the chance to interact with the Pod for the first time, and completed her training in Remote Pod Operations.
As part of our U.S. launch at the end of last year, we were able to let the world in on how this newly created job sector enables trucking’s newest career path. With Tiffany pioneering this role, we couldn’t wait to sit down with her and reflect on over 150 hours of training, being fully operational with the technology for the first time, what the future of trucking could look like, and how her life will change as a result.
What excites you about joining the Einride team as the first Remote Pod Operator?
What excites me about joining the Einride team as the first Remote Pod Operator, first of all, is attempting to do something for the planet and protecting our environment. And also to be able to be home more and live a healthier life.
What has been the biggest advantage for you about our Remote Pod Operations?
The best thing for me has been the easy transition. Before I came and saw the station or the Pod itself for the first time, I was worried about being able to ease into this new technology. Driving a truck for so many years, you kind of get in a rhythm and are used to things that you're doing. So I was worried about what was going to happen once I came to Einride, but the ease with which I get to see the back and a 360° view of my vehicle – what could be better than that? Safety is always a question in trucking, but I feel absolutely safe every time I sit at the station and maneuver the vehicle.
What was your training like?
The first day I came in and saw the Pod, I thought, “oh my, what have I done”. But the training went really smoothly. I'm glad I was introduced to Bruce, which is our Pod here. The Einride team had me walk around the vehicle, showed me all the safety measures, the lidars, the cameras. We started off with some turn radius and and breaking down the differences between the Pod and my heavy duty truck. I think that really helped when I moved on to the Remote Pod Operation Station itself, because I knew what to expect. When I sat down there, I realized that as a normal truck driver, all I'm usually seeing is my rear view mirrors. Having all these additional views and easy control mechanisms is amazing and an incredible difference.
In terms of the elements of the Remote Pod Operation Station, they are much simpler than your current truck, was that also an easy transition?
Oh, I didn't think it would be at first. But the way the vehicle maneuvers using the Remote Pod Operation Station’s little throttle system, also while turning? It all feels very natural. And I don't know how to explain this, but driving a truck, you know, it's completely different from this but it's also exactly the same. The only difference is that I'm just monitoring what my vehicle is doing, instead of actually having a steering wheel bumping up and down, smelling everything that's coming in off the road, the emissions. So I'm really surprised at the ease that the vehicle has.
Coming from the trucking industry, how do you see your new role and how is it changing the future of trucking?
The role I'm playing right now is going to change the trucking industry a lot and in many different ways. For example, for now the trucking industry is still a mostly male dominated field. I think this position that Einride is creating, will give more women the opportunity to come in and be Remote Pod Operators because it allows for more flexibility and to go home at the end of the day – whether they have a family or not. I think that's usually a relevant factor limiting truck operations for women.
But not only will positions be filled that are desperately needed in the transport industry. Electrification is another elementary point that will determine the future of trucking. Because if we don't become electric, what are the truckers going to do? Diesel is going away. Fuel prices are skyrocketing. So something's got to happen in the industry. And I think that Einride has the best solution.
For you personally, what is this going to change about your career? In terms of work life balance, seeing your family? What are the biggest impacts that you're going to get?
The biggest impact I'm going to get out of being a Remote Pod Operator is being able to go home every day. Being able to see my children and my grandchildren that usually only know me through FaceTime. They'll actually get to see their granny in person. This is going to be nice and the biggest thing with Einride that's going to change my life.
What's the most common questions you get with regards to this new job?
I think being in the US everyone's worried about their job security. People will ask me: “My brother's a truck driver, is he going to keep his job?” – and I say to that, no one is going to lose their jobs. We're only creating more jobs. Some people are also worried about safety. But once you go through all the safety measures that Einride created on the Pod itself, you realize the human is another extra safety measure on top of that and it becomes easier to understand where the future of transportation and being on the road is headed.
Is there anything at Einride that has been surprising or has caught you off guard?
There have been a lot of things being with Einride that have caught me off guard. For one: coming in. In the beginning I was really focused on what this new role was about, but it was fascinating to see in detail how extensively Einride actually operates. Coming from the traditional trucking industry, it's extremely exciting to work in a company that is so technologized and smart about supply chain challenges – so that I can still learn a few things myself. I'm so glad to be with Einride, or just to be part of what the company has in mind.