Aidrivers welcomes new investors from the shipping industry

Aidrivers welcomes new investors from the shipping industry

Aidrivers, the global specialist in AI-enabled autonomous ecosystems for industrial transport, is delighted to announce that two high-profile maritime-focused investors have come onboard as new shareholders in the company.

HICO Investment Group and NEPA Shipping have both confirmed their investment in, and support for, Aidrivers – a clear demonstration that the shipping industry recognises the need for innovative autonomous mobility for port terminals to provide resiliency, productivity and efficiency which the industry can depend on.

The HICO Investment Group was founded in 2021 by Tim Hartnoll, Chairman of X-Press Feeders, to build on his experience and expertise building businesses in the logistics, maritime and hospitality sectors. HICO’s current portfolio includes Core Power, Blue Giant, Relais, Bawah Reserve and several other leading technology companies. HICO leverages close partnerships around the world to find new opportunities and expand its existing businesses and technology. X-Press Feeders, the world’s 17th largest liner operation, is operated by the Hartnoll family, as part of its Sea Consortium empire.

The NEPA Group, based in Amsterdam and Hong Kong, has a long and distinguished background in shipping, ship agency and associated operations. Founded in Amsterdam in 1988, NEPA started operations as an agency for trades between South East Asia and Northern Europe. Today, Nepa is a diversified shipping group engaged in ship operating within the dry bulk sector operating mainly with Handy to Ultramax bulk carriers on worldwide trade lanes as well as ship agency, warehousing and logistics in Northern Europe. Nepa maintains operational offices in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok and Shanghai.

“The decision by HICO and NEPA Shipping to become shareholders is a massive vote of confidence in Aidrivers and sends a strong, clear message that autonomous industrial vehicles are the way forward in port logistics,” said Aidrivers founder and CEO Dr. Rafiq Swash.

“Shipping companies, as well as port and terminal operators, recognise the value and relevance of what we are doing – developing and delivering an autonomous ecosystem to meet the needs of industry for resiliency, optimisation and safety, for sustainable ports and logistics operations. These innovations benefit shipping lines directly.”

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Aidrivers delivers AI-enabled autonomous ecosystems for industrial transport automation. Its expertise encompasses the creation and application of autonomous simulator (AISE), navigator (AIOS) and V2X-enabled fleet operator (AIFO) for reducing industry waste and downtime, to contribute to decarbonisation in ports and logistics.

Chris Hartnoll, Managing Director of the HICO Investment Group, said: “We strongly believe in the automation of the port environment in the short to medium term.

“Terminals are under continuous pressure for higher productivity while struggling with labour shortages around the world. We believe AI Drivers will be a leader and a first mover in that evolution of the industry, and we are keen to participate in their continued success.”

Kai Einheuser, Hong Kong based Managing Partner of Nepa Group, said: “Investing into Aidrivers is for us an alternative investment in the maritime industry and a logical step to acknowledge that autonomous mobility in enclosed port environments is what the future holds – both with regard to sustainability (de-carbonisation) as well as logistical optimisation.

“The past 3 years living through the pandemic have shown how logistical bottlenecks in ports can severely disrupt the day to day operation of a shipping company and how it effects pricing of logistics as well as consumer prices at the end of the logistics chain. Aidrivers has a compelling case and a capable team to deliver on its implementation and we are excited to be part of the journey.”

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