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February 19, 2020

Autonomous zero-emission distribution yards…welcome Outrider

Andrew Smith

I’ve devoted my career to the commercialization of environmental technologies. And I’ve had an incredible set of experiences doing it: working on ways to make the world more efficient and sustainable has introduced me to exciting ideas, inspirational people, and awesome technology. Now, after more than two years in ‘stealth mode’, I’m proud to share news of my latest endeavor, Outrider.

Some background is in order. The last company I founded provided deep exposure to the trucking and logistics industries. ATDynamics, which we grew from a business plan to a leading supplier of fuel-saving trailer aerodynamics technology with 500 customers in 9 countries, was acquired in 2015 by EnPro Industries (NYSE: NPO). Following the sale of the company (and after some time traveling and recharging with my amazing family!), I spent significant time reflecting on what drove new technology adoption in the transportation industry. I also paid close attention to meaningful advances occurring in both autonomy and electric truck technology.

Meeting transportation executives and touring the biggest logistics hubs in the United States over a two year period, I started paying more and more attention to what happens in the time between when a trailer is dropped off at a warehouse or factory (known as the trailer yard) and when it’s picked up. It gets moved repeatedly between different parking spots and loading/unloading docks by specialized vehicles called yard trucks. Busy yards need many yard trucks working simultaneously and in close quarters to keep trailers moving in and out of the yard, around the clock, every day of the year. But the inability to tightly control freight and traffic flow typically means idling diesel engines, dulled drivers, intersecting routes, and in general, poorly utilized resources.

I believed the whole process could be cleaned up. In all senses of the term. Clean, from the perspective of operational efficiency, personnel safety, and carbon footprint.

So, I started a company to do just that.

Today, I’m announcing Outrider, a logistics automation company that combines autonomous and electric vehicle technology, perception-based robotics, and subscription software delivery to transform distribution yards into something far safer, more efficient, and more sustainable.

Physical goods move through our economy faster than ever, and it’s time to upgrade the infrastructure used to enable that increased velocity. Nearly a trillion dollars of freight flows through thousands of yards across the US every year, driven by tens of thousands of yard trucks that spew millions of tons of CO2 emissions.

Outrider’s focus on autonomous yard operations addresses a critical, expensive, and pervasive step in today’s supply chain. The Outrider System that the team and I are developing can meaningfully improve both the carbon footprint and profitability of that activity on a global scale, given our focus on the world’s largest logistics-dependent businesses.

Every new adventure should build on lessons from the ones that preceded it. My first summer job during college in the ’90s was managing an electric vehicle demonstration program where we replaced the combustion engines of Geo Metros with lead-acid, and eventually, Nickel Metal Hydrid batteries. The TrailerTail product that I introduced at ATDynamics taught me about the durability requirements for any product sold into the transportation industry. I’ve aimed to get faster and more practical at introducing technology with each new venture for maximum impact both commercially and environmentally.

With Outrider, we’ve prioritized getting the safest, most effective product to market as quickly as possible while minimizing customer effort. This is exactly what’s called for as our society collectively comes to terms with the costs of modern conveniences like same-day/next-day delivery and the constant availability of goods. Modern freight transportation requires cleaner, simpler, more automated technologies to drive waste out of our economy quickly while continuing to support one-click access to the things we consume. So I couldn’t be more excited about how well the Outrider System fits with the urgent mandates of both our economy and our environment.

I’m proud to launch Outrider and build it in the years to come in order to make a big impact on both business and the environment. I’d like to thank our amazing customers, investors, and team for joining me in building a meaningful and valuable company. And to have fun while doing it!

To learn more about Outrider, please visit www.outrider.ai. Thanks in advance for your interest and support!

Andrew Smith

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.

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