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3 min read

Remember when we were afraid of elevators?

3 min read

Remember when we were afraid of elevators?

Technological leaps demand a lot of trust from society. Regardless of our ability to deal with ambiguity and step out of our comfort zones, every change process will require adaptation, whether it’s learning new ways of interacting with devices and each other or restoring our perception of safety.

This is as true today, with the developments of autonomous solutions and artificial intelligence, as in the latter half of the 1800s when the first elevator was introduced in New York. The history of the elevator is a beautiful analogy for autonomous transportation and a perfect example of how society matures around groundbreaking technology.

The act of pressing a button and arriving at your destination is so ordinary to many generations that it’s hard to imagine a time when it was controversial. And how it was. The early days saw the project being shut down because people just refused to board it and then becoming a tourist attraction before taking over buildings around the globe.

We are at an exciting inflection point in autonomous technologies – and in machine learning and generative AI – as highlighted throughout the World Economic Forum’s many discussions. Road freight has proven to be the best business case for autonomous vehicles with the ideal combination of high utilization, repetitiveness, and a sector already used to automation in different parts of the value chain, such as warehouses. The movement of goods by autonomous heavy-duty vehicles offers a lower complexity scenario, whether in fenced areas or on public roads. This use case accelerates its safe deployment and helps shape public perception, something the ride-hailing or passenger car industry may continue to struggle with.

In the next couple of years, we will see massive deployments of autonomous electric vehicles in freight. Following the daily operations at GE Appliances in the United States, Einride will roll out an autonomous pilot with Mars in 2025 in Europe and continue to pursue the ambitious Falcon Rise grid in the United Arab Emirates, a freight mobility grid encompassing 550 km with 200 autonomous trucks, 2,000 connected electric trucks and over 500 charging points.

An incremental process allows entrepreneurs and inventors to solve challenges and continuously develop, test, and iterate. By identifying the best use cases for the technology to thrive, we achieve results that make business and societal sense, attract the necessary investments and partnerships, and enable safe deployments at scale.

Building trust, infrastructure and legal frameworks are essential elements in this journey. A future of reduced traffic congestion, cleaner air, quieter communities and a healthier population is closer than you think. The coming generations will grow in cities where seamless interactions with autonomous vehicles are routine.

We didn’t have to be afraid of elevators after all.

Robert Falck

CEO and Founder of Einride

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