Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA) has announced that its innovation unit, HHLA Next, is investing in automated logistics start-up FERNRIDE.
The two companies are partnering to launch a pilot project for highly automated and electric container logistics at the HHLA TK Estonia terminal in Tallinn.
The goal of the project is to develop solutions for the gradual automation of trucks within live operations, with the aim of addressing the current shortage of truck drivers and promoting sustainability in the logistics industry.
HHLA’s investment came as FERNRIDE’s approach focuses on gradually increasing the autonomy of trucks and tractor units, rather than fully autonomous vehicles; this in turn allows for a more reliable and sustainable service.
Simone Lode, Managing Director of HHLA Next, said: “We at HHLA Next invest in digital and sustainable business models in maritime logistics. We see great potential in autonomous driving solutions, also because of the current lack of truck drivers.
“With FERNRIDE, we are investing in a company that has already implemented a viable solution with a partner network of respected companies from industry and logistics with very good results. In addition, the project highlights our focus on sustainable logistics.”
FERNRIDE’s technology equips trucks and tractor units with sensors and cameras so that they can be remote-controlled via mobile networks.
Teleoperators at a computer workstation take remote control of the vehicles, receiving and sending targeted commands in real-time by controlling the gas pedal, brakes, steering wheel, and joystick.
The company’s algorithms can be further trained using data from real-life operations to roll out additional autonomous functions.
The pilot project at the HHLA TK Estonia terminal in Tallinn is set to begin in early 2023, with the goal of determining the technology’s operational reliability in automated container handling and validating its viability for future business opportunities.
“HHLA is the perfect partner to use our platform for autonomous electric trucking in ports. The advantages of remote control can already be actively used by a part of the workforce within ports,” added Hendrik Kramer, CEO FERNRIDE.
“With our solution, truck drivers can now also benefit. HHLA shares our ambition to scale this technology internationally, and the port in Tallinn offers ideal conditions in which to lay the foundation for this.”
HHLA Next is providing FERNRIDE with access to subsidiaries in the HHLA Group and both companies hope that this project will be the beginning of a long partnership.
The filling station will be a part of the test centre for hydrogen powered port logistics at the Container Terminal Tollerort (CTT) in the Port of Hamburg.