2020 has been a year of inspiring accomplishments against a backdrop of significant challenges both in our communities and across the globe. The pandemic has not affected industries equally, and Outrider has been unquestionably one of the more fortunate. As a result of the pandemic, the need for a more resilient supply chain became evident and only grew the demand for yard automation. So we pulled up our masks and continued building a great company with our employees, customers, partners, and investors.
As we approach the close of this unprecedented year, I reflect on our efforts and celebrate all we’ve achieved in 2020.
The year started with a bang. After two years in stealth mode, we launched the company with the first-to-market autonomous yard operations solution for logistics hubs. With 75 employees, $53 million in seed and Series A funding rounds, and five Fortune 200 customers, the market quickly recognized that Outrider was here to stay.
We knew we’d be successful if our technology could endure the tests of the real world. In close collaboration with customers during pilot programs, we rapidly iterated the technology and furthered our market leadership. We thank our customers’ executive leadership, program managers, and site teams for their dedication to bringing next-generation technology to their companies.
These pilot deployments were successful thanks to the thousands of hours our engineering and site operations teams spent in yards prioritizing product features, problem-solving, and serving our customers. Because of this work, we are setting the new standard for how the largest companies will run their distribution yards — efficiently, safely, and sustainably.
Then came COVID-19. We worked together to navigate the challenges it presented. For several consecutive days in March, our executive team discussed how to handle this new reality: Should we require social distancing in the office? Should we require remote working? How will that affect our work?
With the safety of our employees and community always top-of-mind, we quickly adapted to the basic science of controlling the virus in our workplace. Thanks to the team’s dedication, we concluded pilot programs and continued to evolve our autonomous system. Strong guiding principles and an innovative culture allowed us to move quickly and make smart decisions.
By way of thousands of back-to-back video conferences and extra precautions for onsite work, our team of more than 80 engineers worked tirelessly to develop the groundbreaking technology that autonomously moves 80,000-pound trailers. Our proprietary semi-trailer connection technology, docking methodologies, mission planning, and remote operations address all the critical factors that will define yards of the future. Our team also filed numerous patents, protecting our innovations for years to come.
2020’s climate-related tragedies also gave us further resolve to displace diesel-polluting yard trucks with clean, electric yard trucks. In the US, there are more than 50,000 diesel yard trucks that emit 3.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, the equivalent of one coal-fired plant. Since our founding, Outrider designed our autonomous system to run on electric yard truck platforms instead of diesel.
We are setting the new standard for how the largest companies will run their distribution yards — efficiently, safely, and sustainably.
With demand from multiple sectors, investors chose to double-down on Outrider’s technical leadership with an additional $65 million in Series B funding led by Koch Disruptive Technologies (KDT). The Series B round involved other existing investors who increased their investments, including NEA, 8VC, and Prologis Ventures. We welcomed new investors to Outrider, including Evolv Ventures, the investment arm of Kraft Heinz, and Henry Crown and Company. With $118 million raised to date, we are uniquely positioned to scale and support the rapid automation of distribution yards.
It’s true that 2020 has been an unprecedented year. It’s also true that, as a company, it’s been our most exciting to date. We expanded our customer base, completed multiple pilot programs, and were recognized by Gartner, Inc. as a “Cool Vendor in Supply Chain Execution Technologies.” The Outrider team has grown to more than 110 employees focused exclusively on delivering autonomous yard operations.
As I look forward to 2021 and beyond, Outrider will move an increasing share of the 10 billion tons of freight that passes through distribution yards each year. Thanks to our team’s creativity and consistent execution, people will no longer work in dull, dirty, and dangerous jobs, and fossil fuels will no longer power our distribution yards.
On behalf of everyone at Outrider, I wish everyone a healthy and safe New Year!
Andrew is the founder and CEO of Outrider, the pioneer in autonomous yard operations for logistics hubs. He is committed to the rapid commercialization of sustainable freight transportation by deploying zero-emission systems. Under his leadership, Outrider has grown from a concept to a yard automation solution for the biggest companies in the world.