VW praises Fernride’s autonomous electric truck innovation

Fernride's autonomous, electric trucks improve supply chain operational efficiency without compromising reliability, says Tobias Röhricht, Volkswagen (VW)

Driver shortage, growing CO2 emissions, and tight profit margins are key issues in the logistics industry today — and they are predicted to get worse. 


The current shortage of 400,000 truck drivers in Europe alone is projected to increase to two million truck drivers by 2026. 

 

Munich-based deep tech company, Fernride, is offering scalable automation solutions for yard trucking to reduce the amount of drivers needed, increase productivity, promote sustainability, and improve worker safety. 

 

Employing a human-assisted autonomy approach that allows teleoperators to remotely control trucks, Fernride’s technology has been seamlessly integrated into logistics operations in ports and terminals run by industry titans such as Volkswagen, HHLA and DB Schenker.

 

“Fernride's approach to autonomy with human-in-the-loop provides a solution that improves operational efficiency without compromising reliability, paving the way towards full automation,” says Tobias Röhricht, Head of Transport Planning for Wolfsburg Volkswagen Factory.

 

Röhricht has been with Volkswagen for nearly two decades, where he has gained expert insight into global logistics issues and development. The Wolfsburg Volkswagen Factory, where he oversees all transport planning, is described as the ‘heart of the VW brand’ and produces between 750,000 and 800,000 vehicles a year. 

Established in 1938 and covering 6,500,000 m², the facility will be converted by 2030 into a multi-platform plant with the platforms MQB (internal combustion engine), MEB (electric) and SSP (autonomous driving). During his time there, Röhricht  has continued to learn and develop, gaining a degree in transport logistics management. 

 

“Thanks to their advanced technology and customer-centric team, which expertly tackles any challenges, the integration into our processes was seamless.”


Autonomous, sustainable solutions to global supply chain issues

Increased wait times at ports are a time waster for drivers, even cutting into their pay. Fernride is solving this issue with autonomous technology that allows multiple trucks to be controlled at any given time by a single teleoperator.

 

Currently, each remote teleoperator can control four trucks at any given time, and as autonomous technology is developed and enhanced, Fernride is on a mission to increase this ratio.

 

The electric trucks are also reducing environmental impact — the global supply chain accounts for more than 50% of annual greenhouse gas emissions. By using electric vehicles instead of diesel trucks, not only is the carbon footprint of every journey dramatically reduced, but also noise pollution and fuel costs too.

 

“Our mission is to be the leading solution for autonomous electric trucking and we firmly believe that our human-machine collaboration approach holds the key to resolving critical challenges in the supply chain, not only today but in the future as well,” says Hendrik Kramer CEO & Co-Founder of Fernride.

 

Hendrik Kramer discovered an industrial application for his team’s research on autonomous driving whilst studying at TU Munich, one of the world’s most prestigious universities for automotive engineering research, and Stanford University. In 2019 he founded Fernride with CPO Dr Maximilian Fisser and Chief Engineer Jean-Michael Georg, and the team now involves alumni from tech and automotive giants including BMW, Audi, Argo.AI, Mobileye, Amazon, and Tesla.

 

“The roll-out of autonomous vehicles on public roads has, for the past decade, always been ‘two years away’, but because of the extent of the technology and research required, we’re still not close to full autonomy on roads. 

 

“That doesn’t mean that companies should have to wait years, if not decades, to unlock the benefits of autonomous mobility. Our human-machine collaboration technology is enabling our customers to achieve greater productivity today, while reducing their emissions and improving the safety of workers on-site. 

 

“Looking ahead, even in 20 or 30 years time, we still expect humans to be overseeing autonomous vehicles. The capabilities of the teleoperators will scale as the technology develops, and reliance will gradually decrease, but human-machine collaboration is not only essential right now, it’s here to stay.” 

 

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