Check out the on-demand sessions from the Low-Code/No-Code Summit to learn how to successfully innovate and achieve efficiency by upskilling and scaling citizen developers. Watch now.

Self-driving cars ferry folks from place to place. They deliver food. And starting later this year, they’ll transport wood from logging sites to sawmills. Self-funded Swedish company Einride today announced the T-log, an autonomous, all-electric logging truck that’s designed to navigate hilly, winding forest roads.

“Logging transport is a huge market,” Einride CEO Robert Falck told VentureBeat in a phone interview, “and it’s well-suited for autonomous vehicles. About 60 percent of the cost of a [logging truck] is associated with the driver cab, and an additional 25 percent is associated with the driveline and gearbox. Trucks [like the T-log represent] substantial cost savings.”

He’s not wrong. IbisWorld reports that the U.S. logging market is worth $16 billion, and in Sweden, where Einride is headquartered, it’s a billion-dollar enterprise.

The T-log — which shares much of its guts with Einride’s autonomous T-pod truck — is capable of level 4 autonomous driving, meaning it can operate with limited human input and oversight in specific conditions and locations. It’s powered by Nvidia’s Drive platform and uses a sophisticated combination of sensors — including cameras, lidars, and radars — and intelligent routing software to adjust its route to avoid congestion. This allows it to improve delivery times, battery life, and energy consumption.


Intelligent Security Summit

Learn the critical role of AI & ML in cybersecurity and industry specific case studies on December 8. Register for your free pass today.

Register Now

Einride claims that the T-log’s 300kWh battery can last up to 120 miles on a charge.

Einride T-log

Above: A rendering of the T-log.

Image Credit: Einride

“Our goal was to create a cost-competitive transport solution that has the potential to replace human-operated logging trucks,” Falck said.

That said, the T-log isn’t strictly autonomous; like the T-pod, it takes a hybrid driverless approach. In especially tricky driving scenarios, it can be remotely controlled with Phantom Auto’s teleoperation technology up to “hundreds of miles” away, via a low-latency cellular connection.

“[R]eplace the driver with an operator who can monitor and remote-control several vehicles at once, and costs can be reduced significantly,” Falck said. “In addition, operating a vehicle from a distance allows for a much better working environment, as has already been demonstrated in industries like mining.”

But even when a human is in control, the T-log is much more environmentally friendly than conventional diesel-powered logging trucks, Falck points out.

“Heavy road transport is responsible for a substantial part of global carbon dioxide emissions. Add to that the tens of thousands of people who die every year from nitrous oxide pollution — effectively poisoned by diesel fumes — and you have every reason to look for a more sustainable alternative.”

Einride might be one of the first to market with an autonomous vehicle built specifically for logging, but it’s not the only self-driving truck business on the block. Last year, Embark launched a self-driving system tailored to long-haul trucking fleets, and Uber-owned Otto markets a semi-autonomous trucking solution that can navigate highways and industrial parks. (Uber, it should be noted, suspended self-driving tests after one of its driverless cars struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona earlier this year.)

Einride plans to introduce the T-log to public roads in 2020. Falck expects a single truck to cost about $100,000, and though he wouldn’t name names he said that several “major global companies” have already expressed interest.

VentureBeat's mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative enterprise technology and transact. Discover our Briefings.