Fernride, the trailblazing German company in the realm of autonomous trucking, has just secured a hefty $19 million in additional funding for its Series A round. The investor lineup includes noteworthy names such as Germany’s Deep Tech and Climate Funds (DTCF), Munich Re Ventures, Bayern Kapital, and Klaus Kleinfeld, who will also assume the role of Chairman of Fernride’s board. This fresh injection of capital is poised to propel Fernride further on its quest to dominate the world of autonomous electric trucking while refining its cutting-edge technology.
While discussions surrounding autonomous and electric vehicles often revolve around the consumer market, the logistics transport sector holds its own significance. According to Logistics UK, Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) and vans are responsible for over a third of all greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector. Here, Fernride steps in with a solution that's not just eco-conscious but also boosts efficiency.
Fernride's unique approach focuses on yard trucking, the crucial movement of vehicles within locations like ports and large facilities, particularly during goods transfer and manufacturing processes. What sets Fernride apart is its integration of human intervention. CEO Hendrik Kramer explains that while the trucks are self-driving, a human teleoperator can step in when necessary. This blend of human and AI not only enhances sustainability but also elevates productivity and safety. Currently, one operator manages four vehicles remotely, with plans to scale this to dozens of automated trucks in the future.
Fernride's commitment to worker safety and its ingenious approach have the potential to address the driver shortage issue plaguing the industry. Experienced drivers who have left the profession due to various challenges find a new opportunity here. Moreover, the ability for teleoperators to work remotely reduces the need for long periods away from home, a common gripe among long-haul truck drivers.
Already, Fernride's trucks are in operation at ports across Europe, efficiently handling tasks typically performed by human-driven vehicles. Notably, they are also employed at the Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg, Germany, transporting semi finished goods within the facility. Investors have been drawn to Fernride's incremental approach, environmental benefits, and proven technology, seeing it as an optimal path towards fully autonomous capabilities.
Dr. Elisabeth Schrey of DTCF highlighted the environmental advantages of Fernride's technologies, emphasizing their alignment with DTCF's investment focus. Timur Davis, Director at Munich Re Ventures, lauded Fernride's step-by-step approach and its capacity to partner with key industry players. Meanwhile, CEO Hendrik Kramer envisions a broader future for Fernride, aiming to extend autonomous electric trucking beyond shipping yards onto public roads, cementing the company's status as a global leader in this transformative sector.