Gemini Motor Co., a cleantech company building autonomous, zero-emission semi-trucks powered by hydrogen fuel cells, is launching a fleet of autonomous hydrogen fuel cell trucks by 2025. The first prototype is currently under development and will be available for testing next year.
The RoboTruck, Gemini’s first product in line, will have a range of up to 1,400 miles and can be refueled in less than 20 minutes. Since no drivers are involved, the fleet of RoboTrucks can operate 24 hours a day and seven days a week, quadrupling the operational efficiency of each unit over the conventional human-driven trucks. In addition, no driver cabin is required, which results in a significant drop in capital costs at volume production, mitigating the additional cost of AV sensors and compute equipment.
“The combination of L4/L5 autonomy and zero-emission ‘long-range’ powertrains will transform the future of transportation in ways we can only imagine,” says Alex Rafiee, CEO and co-founder of Gemini. “For the first time, we can accelerate decarbonization in transportation by combining two technologies that enable our zero-emission fleet to maximize utilization up to 97 percent of the time in a 24-hour day. This level of extreme utilization dramatically reduces CO2 emissions, shipping costs and freight congestion, all at once.”
For a frame of reference, Rafiee explains that adding 20,000 Gemini RoboTrucks to the industry would have the same beneficial impact on the environment as adding 3 million new battery-electric passenger vehicles on U.S. roads.
Using a software-centric approach that incorporates self-learning and sensor fusion, the Gemini AI runs vehicles autonomously, performs predictive maintenance and maximizes fuel efficiency while meeting the highest safety standards. Gemini Motor is currently working with AV partners to develop its AV stack, which will be ready for early testing later this summer.
“Only fuel-cell, electric propulsion will give us the driving range and fast refueling needed to harvest the 24/7 operation benefits of an autonomous truck,” states Gemini’s co-founder Maik Ziegler, the former head of advanced engineering at Daimler Truck North America and the former head of commercial vehicles at Hyundai Motor Europe. “In this way, we are solving the chicken and egg problem of which comes first, the refueling infrastructure or the vehicles. The development of a hub-to-hub operation model for Gemini trucks is far more economical than other alternatives because the number of refueling stations required for our fleet will be exponentially lower than would otherwise be the case.”
Gemini founders also believe autonomy should be part of the product design from the ground up, which is why they have designed a vehicle that not only embraces the core functionality of an autonomous vehicle with redundancy in mind but also fully engineered to optimize the high efficiency of a fuel-cell powertrain. The patented design considers a full 2.75-meter-high front shutter that enables surface cooling for the radiator array, while the exhaust air vents through the side channels, eliminating the need for constant fan operation. This design enables a highly efficient cooling system, improving fuel efficiency. Additionally, fuel efficiency is improved through autonomous driving.