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Fernride: driverless technology

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Driverless technology is a reality already taking shape in the logistics and shipping industries, accelerated by driver scarcity, the explosion of online commerce and the shift to electrification and reduction of emissions. “These industries are the backbone of global trade”, says Hendrik Kramer, CEO of Munich-based Fernride. “With volumes shipped around the world increasing by the hour and people expecting ever-shorter delivery times, autonomous driving technologies are the ideal solution for today’s goods transport.”

Fernride spun out from the Technical University of Munich, (TUM). “It is the centre of excellence for automotive, chip-making, semiconductors and tele-operation research - an ideal environment for a young innovative business like us.” Fernride offers driverless transportation as a service through a cloud-based teleoperation platform. The technology allows human operators to control vehicles remotely. The repetitive and easy tasks are performed by artificial intelligence and the tele-operator intervenes when the vehicle has to be manoeuvred in challenging situations. “It is100% driverless but still human centric. We just take the truck drivers out of the cabs and bring them into an office from where they operate the system.” Meanwhile, costs are reduced whilst efficiency and vehicle utilisation can be increased dramatically through these driverless solutions. Likewise, operational fuel consumption and environmental impact can be reduced when replacing diesel machines with sustainable, next generation electric trucks.

Fernride targets manufacturing plants, logistics yards and freight on private land market. “There are 100,000 trucks in Europe that are only used on private grounds to transport goods from A to B. It is a great first market for us to explore. As a really young start-up we first have to remain focussed on one sector, take a step by step approach. The beauty of it is that it combines human intelligence and automation,” he says. “At TUM, we were a smart team with a smart technology, we just needed that last push to make the solution available to users and exploit it.” That push came in the form of an investment from Fly Ventures, a venture capital firm backed by the EIF, who believed in Hendrik’s vision. “They shared our strategy and helped us to find product market fit.”

Hendrik is convinced that self-driving trucks offer sizable economic and operational benefits for companies across the supply chain, in terms of solving driver scarcity and environmental impact.  His vision is to scale autonomous driving so that it can benefit society as a whole. The company is currently running pilot programs in Europe but Hendrik clearly doesn’t want to stop here. “There are so many applications to our solution from mining, to mobility, last-mile delivery, and farming. Our technology has the potential to solve problems on a global scale. We are a European company representing European values but our ambition is to go global.”

Location: Munich

Financial Intermediary: Fly Ventures

SME: Fernride

Sector: AI

Number of employees: 30

Financing purpose: commercialisation

EIF financing: RCR/own resources; ERP

 

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