Since October, Einride has been part of the world-leading MODI project, a European cross-border initiative, co-funded by the European Union, to improve the transport and logistics industry by accelerating the introduction of Connected, Cooperative and Automated Mobility (CCAM) solutions. Einride will serve as the leading autonomous partner of this European flagship project which aims to, among other things, demonstrate an autonomous electric vehicle crossing a country border – a first in the world.
MODI refers to the word “brave” in the Nordic languages, and that is the approach permeating the project, which will enable the safe roll-out of heavy-duty autonomous transportation in a wide variety of market applications. To achieve that and to prepare for large-scale deployment, the project will, for example, address harmonization of regulations between countries, societal acceptance of autonomous vehicles, and how the physical and digital infrastructure can support the introduction of autonomous vehicles. The idea of the project is to connect major ports and support a freight corridor from Rotterdam, the Netherlands, to Oslo, Norway. The project includes partners from academia, research institutes, the public sector, as well as the private sector, including OEMs and logistic service providers.
The overall objective of the project is to showcase SAE level 4 automated driving features, where vehicles are capable of driving fully autonomously in specific operating conditions and do not require a safety driver on board.
As part of the MODI project, Einride’s autonomous electric vehicle will demonstrate operations on a selected portion of the E6 highway between Sweden and Norway - the Nordic Link. This will mark the first time a cabless autonomous vehicle crosses countries’ borders and will serve as a giant leap toward cross-border autonomous operations.
The E6 highway is the most important freight crossing between Sweden and Norway. Close to 97% of all freight between Gothenburg and Oslo is transported by road, with over 70% of trucks returning empty. While freight volumes are predicted to increase over the coming decade, the E6’s physical infrastructure has limited capacity to accommodate increasing flows. In order to support growth effectively, important freight routes need to be more efficient than they are today. While Einride Saga is the brain that allows for efficient fleet management, automation is another definite step in this direction.
“The MODI project is a great opportunity for Einride to demonstrate different use cases with current and potential customers as well as to work together with relevant partners that can evaluate and validate our solution. These use cases will be valuable for us when evolving our technology further,” says Andreas Allström, Director of Public Funding & Research Collaboration at Einride.
Einride has a clear vision for the future of the sustainable transportation system as being digital, electric, and autonomous, and the project offers an excellent opportunity to team up with strategic partners to achieve that goal.
MODI to mitigate barriers to the adoption of autonomous operations
Even as autonomous vehicles rapidly evolve, there are still barriers to the widespread adoption of autonomous and electric transportation solutions. Such barriers will be analyzed in-depth within the MODI project. When operating across borders, new layers of complexity are added to the mix, such as connectivity, border and customs control, today partly executed by people, as well as differences in legislation between the participating countries.
The use of autonomous vehicles for cross-border operations will significantly contribute to improving European transportation and logistic chains. The MODI project will make substantial steps toward identifying and resolving major barriers on confined areas and on public roads for SAE level 4 CCAM vehicles that might be in the way of future deployment.
“We believe that autonomous electric vehicles are the future of transport. Hence, it is essential that we, together with influential partners, provide a greater understanding and deliver recommendations to main stakeholders around the globe to be able to affect the industry in the right direction, pushing for a digital, electric, and autonomous future,” says Andreas.
A solution to GHG emissions and driver shortage
The accelerated adoption of electric and autonomous vehicles will reduce CO2 and NOx emissions as well as other traffic-related air pollution mainly caused by diesel vehicles. Once fully operational, Einride expects to save up to 10,571 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year through the Nordic Link.
The introduction of automated vehicles also tackles one critical problem: the driver shortage. According to the International Road Transport Union (IRU), there are 425,000 vacant truck driver positions in Europe, which reveals the lack of attractiveness of the driver profession. One of the ways to address this is by improving working conditions for drivers. With an autonomous operation based on the reliable Remote Interface, a new and desired profession blossoms: skilled operators oversee multiple autonomous vehicles from a remote station which creates a safer and more controlled work environment compared to the draining schedule of life behind a truck’s steering wheel.
“At Einride, we believe in human-led autonomy. Humans and machines accomplish much more together. The remote operator will play a key vital role in overseeing autonomous transport chains, which is why we decided to lead a project that showcases the importance of having an interface between vehicles and the supervising remote operator.”, says Andreas.
Einride is deploying grids around the world – bringing together products, technology and partners. Read more about how and where this is happening here.