The Detroit Auto Show plays host to hundreds of different companies, each looking to bring something unique to the transportation world.
While much of the media and visitors gawk over the new cars, trucks and SUVs on display, TheStreet wanted to take some time to highlight new concepts and prototypes we may one day see on the road in the not-too-distant future.
Einride made its U.S. debut at the show with the T-Pod. You'll notice in the images below there isn't a cabin for a driver. For obvious reasons, that's because there is no driver for the autonomous rig. That's why when the shippers are loading their cargo, it can essentially fill the vehicle's entire space.
We were able to catch up with Robert Falck, CEO of the Sweden-based company, on the floor. With Einride, Falck says he wanted to rethink how transportation is done. Falck tells us that autonomous trucking "can compete with long-haul semi-trucks and be cost competitive."
While all the snazzy sports cars get the attention for their self-driving features, Falck told TheStreet that the real segment ripe for self-driving disruption is trucking and logistics.
Einride is still in the testing phase with the T-Pod, but Falck told us the first one will be installed for customer use in the third quarter of this year. The company hopes to bring the product over to the U.S. in the future.
"A lot of technology is coming into the market that's going to have the potential to disrupt the whole ecosystem," he explained, adding that in the future, traditional truck manufacturers may have a hard time keeping up with these changes.
General Motors Surus
One of the cooler vehicles on display was the General Motors (GM) - Get Report Surus. You won't see one of these zipping around the neighborhood, beach, docks or shipping yards just yet. But it could be closer than you think.
For those worried about noisy self-driving flatbeds working through the night, don't be. Surus actually stands for Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure.
The Surus is a hydrogen-powered flatbed vehicle with a vast amount of capabilities. A company spokesman told TheStreet that it's still early days for this autonomous helper, but the amount of interest in it is massive. The vehicle has a "common chassis," allowing the top of the vehicle to be custom-outfitted with different equipment, while maintaining a common platform that powers the vehicle.
A "container" on the back can be used for a number of different things. On its display at the show, it read, "[the] SURUS concept aims to solve some of the toughest transportation challenges created by natural disasters, complex logistics environments and global conflict."
Imagine in some scenarios -- say a natural disaster -- where the Surus can be equipped with medical supplies, essentially becoming a mobile hospital that could reach the stranded. Similar types of applications could be applied for military use as well. The Surus could also serve as an efficient addition to warehouses, shipping yards, docks and commercial construction sites.
GMC Sierra All Mountain Concept
This monster is straight from an avalanche-rescue team's dreams. Imagine mashing a pickup truck with a snowmobile and you've got the 2018 GMC Sierra 2500HD All Terrain X All Mountain Concept, shown below.
The truck is equipped with four Mattracks, and overall shows plenty of promise in rough, snow-filled jobs. "Designed to function much like the tracks found on a bulldozer or a snow grooming machine, these tracks provide both additional ground clearance and increased flotation - the latter is crucial when operating over dirt, mud, or deep banks of powdery snow," the company says.
This baby isn't messing around under the hood either. It's equipped with a 6.6 liter turbo-diesel V8 engine kicking out 445 horsepower and 910-lb of torque.
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This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author had no positions in the stocks mentioned.