Phantom Auto halts operations

Local News
- 21 Mar 2024 ( #1171 ) - Palo Alto, CA
2 min read
Phantom Auto applied remote-control technology to enable people to work off-site
Phantom Auto applied remote-control technology to enable people to work off-site

Remote forklift operation pioneer Phantom Auto has halted operations.

In a LinkedIn post, founder Shai Magzimof confirms that “after seven years of efforts to reshape the future of physical labour at Phantom Auto, we've made the tough decision to close operations”. 

Magzimof attributes the demise to factors including market conditions and insufficient funding. 

“I express gratitude to our employees, investors, customers, partners, and all who've joined us on this journey. These times are challenging, but my primary concern is our team,” he says. 

Phantom Auto reportedly told staff of their job losses by email, but the CEO says he is committed to providing references for all employees.

“We possess exceptional talent now seeking opportunities in the job market,” he says in his post.

Phantom Auto’s Remote Operation Platform, ranked among Time Magazine’s top innovations of 2022, enabled drivers of warehouse and manufacturing facility vehicles to sit at a computer outfitted with a steering wheel, pedals and other accessories. Its ultra-low latency software gave remote workers real-time 360-degree “eyes and ears around a vehicle” and the ability to communicate with on-the-ground colleagues via a two-way audio system. 

In May 2021, the company announced a “milestone agreement” with Mitsubishi Logisnext Americas group.

At the time, chief business officer Elliot Katz said the partnership with Mitsubishi Logisnext Americas was a significant step in Phantom's mission to unlock greater safety, productivity and operational resilience across the supply chain.

Another key collaboration saw Phantom partnering with leading global logistics provider Geodis.

The first successful tests took place in France (Levallois and Le Mans) in early 2021 as part of a multi-year cooperation between Geodis, Phantom Auto and Fenwick-Linde1 to create the first remotely operated forklift, capable of being controlled from thousands of kilometres away. It was dubbed a “precursor of a revolution in the nature of work in the logistics industry, expanding opportunity to people from historically underrepresented demographics (e.g. women, people with physical disabilities, geographically-isolated, and more)”.

A number of former Phantom Auto employees have taken to social media to praise the company and its founders.

Former product manager John Hawkins says he enjoyed his time at Phantom and is grateful for the experience and the immense amount he learned over the past two-plus years. “The people were truly the heart of Phantom – a remarkable group of hardworking individuals across the globe with unparalleled expertise,” he notes.

Another ex-staffer posted that Phantom was an amazing place to work. “Thank you for the opportunity. I learned a lot during my time there and loved all of my colleagues,” he writes.

As for the CEO’s future, Magzimof says he will be “taking a pause to unwind and think about the next step”.

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