The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way people work. And this won´t turn back. Different surveys show that 75 to 80 percent of employees worldwide believe remote work is the new normal. But there are jobs where remote work is hard to imagine. Driving a truck is one of these. Fortunately, a fast-growing German company might change the future of truck driving forever. FERNRIDE, in which the global logistics service provider DB Schenker recently invested via its investment arm Schenker Ventures, will start a pilot project to scale and roll out operations for remote operated trucks.
FERNRIDE equips trucks with several sensors and cameras. By combining the skills of truck drivers with market-ready autonomous technologies, teleoperation is the remote control of automated or manual vehicles via the cellular network. It enables human intervention and assistance of the vehicle from afar, meaning the truck drivers can be hundreds of kilometers away, sitting at their desks and driving the trucks remotely. The teleoperator receives and sends targeted commands to the vehicle in real-time from a workstation using the accelerator pedal, brake, steering wheel, and joystick, just like a driver in a truck cabin does today. With that, FERNRIDE delivers a successful integration of automated trailer shunting.
FERNRIDE, founded in 2019, in an early phase of the company’s history, started a partnership with DB Schenker. Together, they tested the functionality of the teleoperation on a warehouse yard in Germany, and now it’s time for the next phase of collaboration: a pilot phase for autonomous and electric yard trucking will be done on a “future yard” in Tilburg, Netherlands. One teleoperated yard truck will be integrated into the daily business of one of Europe’s most modern warehouses. For now, with an additional truck driver in the cab. But soon, it will be driven completely remotely. The pilot phase aims to learn more about teleoperation and understand the operational possibilities and limitations of the technology.
“DB Schenker is an industry defining leader in driving innovation, sustainability and automation. We’re not only excited about the pilot project but also about potential joint future business opportunities. This partnership will allow us to quickly scale autonomous, electric trucking together.”
With the new technology, truck drivers can steer different trucks without leaving their desks. The possibility of remote work will also make the job more attractive by creating a better work-life balance. It will then be possible to unite family, hobbies, and truck driving. Besides that, teleoperations can contribute to a more flexible and safer workplace for drivers and increase efficiency in the yard.
“The partnership with FERNRIDE will help us to understand the requirements to turn our yards towards high automation. The young company is transforming the way we operate our yards today, redefining the role of drivers and empowering them instead of disrupting them. We look forward to working together with the great team at FERNRIDE. It’s an excellent opportunity to learn from each other.”
Remote operated trucks can contribute to a more flexible and safer workspace for drivers. Once teleoperated truck driving is deployed, many opportunities exist to further develop and scale it across logistics operations: a new chapter for the industry and the truck driver profession.
Published: November 2022