HHLA TK Estonia, a subsidiary of Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA), and Munich-based scale-up FERNRIDE have successfully completed the first phase of their joint project at the Estonian terminal, where the companies will continue to develop the project and promote autonomous driving. In addition, innovation unit HHLA Next once again invested in FERNRIDE in June.
The joint project began in January at the HHLA TK Estonia terminal near Tallinn. The goal of the first project phase was to determine the technology’s operational reliability in the area of automated container handling and to validate its appropriateness for future business opportunities. After the project team was able to provide a proof of concept during the first phase, the FERNRIDE system was successfully integrated into HHLA TK Estonia’s work processes. Key to this was in particular the participation of operating employees at the terminal, who addressed the specifics of terminal processes.
The yard truck that FERNRIDE had equipped with sensors and cameras was already able to transport initial containers between the quayside and the yard via remote control. FERNRIDE’s unique human-assisted approach to autonomy enables remote control of the vehicle by a teleoperator. With the start of the second phase, autonomous driving will be integrated into operational processes. For this purpose, an additional automated yard truck will be deployed at the terminal for container transport. The goal is to achieve a degree of autonomy of at least 80 to 90 percent.
Philip Sweens, Managing Director of HHLA International: “Thanks to the joint project with FERNRIDE, we have been able to test the system directly in the operational business of HHLA TK Estonia. The implementation has proven itself in daily terminal operations, so that proof of concept could be achieved at an early stage. We will now continue our excellent collaboration with FERNRIDE and will work together to see how autonomous driving might work in the future. Our goal is to create work processes at our international terminals that are future-oriented and sustainable.”
Martin Isik, CCO FERNRIDE: “We are looking forward to the next phase of productive and successful collaboration with HHLA. Our mutual trust and the desire to positively transform the sector make us perfect strategic partners in the implementation of our platform for autonomous electric trucking in port areas. Our partners are impressed by the platform’s advantages, including the increased efficiency and safety for our employees, the reliability of our operations and the easy scalability of the solution. HHLA shares our values and our ambitions of scaling this technology internationally, and the TK Estonia terminal offers ideal conditions to lay the foundation for this.”
As a result of an initial investment by HHLA Next, FERNRIDE has been a portfolio company of the innovation unit since December 2022. HHLA Next invested in FERNRIDE once again in the recently completed round of Series A financing. The two companies are thereby underscoring their close partnership of recent months and their common goal of more sustainable logistics.
Simone Lode, Managing Director of HHLA Next: “The successful project in Tallinn once again underlined FERNRIDE’s professionalism as well as the immediate operability of the system. This strengthened our decision to expand our investment. With FERNRIDE, we are investing in a company that provides ‘human-assisted autonomy’. This is already a functioning, reliable solution that is paving the way towards autonomous driving.”
FERNRIDE’s added value lies in its provision for the gradually increased autonomy of trucks. The company focuses on a combination of already available autonomous vehicle technology and human expertise in remote mode, which can be directly used in regular operations.