Fernride, a German startup that develops self-driving trucks for logistics yards, announced on Wednesday that it has raised $50 million in a Series A funding round.
The round was led by new investors Munich Re Ventures, Bayern Kapital and former Siemens executive Klaus Kleinfeld, who will join the board as chairman. Existing investors, including HHLA and DB Schenker, also participated in the round.
The Munich-based startup said it had initially closed the round with $31 million, but had extended it due to high investor interest. The company plans to use the new funds to increase the use of its “human-assisted” autonomous freight trucks in customer’s logistics yards, where they operate at low speeds and in controlled environments.
Fernride’s trucks use a combination of sensors, cameras and software to drive themselves around 80% of the time, with remote human operators stepping in to help the remaining 20% of the time. The company claims that this approach reduces costs, increases efficiency and improves safety for its customers, which include Volkswagen, DB Schenker and HHLA.
Fernride is currently testing its trucks with a small fleet for these key customers in various scenarios, such as moving containers at the Hamburg port, or transporting semi-finished goods within Volkswagen’s production facilities. The company said that as the technology improves, its trucks will be able to operate autonomously more of the time and expand to use cases outside yard operations.
Fernride is one of the many startups that are focusing on simpler self-driving vehicle solutions, as developing fully-autonomous vehicles that can go everywhere has proven harder and more expensive than expected. While many investors have backed off big bets on robotaxi and autonomous highway truck freight startups, they are still funding startups targeting niche markets such as logistics yards, warehouses or campuses.