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May 2, 2023

Everyone wins when yards become more efficient

Andrew Smith

Founder and CEO

Recently, I participated in 8VC’s annual Logistics Summit, where leaders from some of the most forward-looking freight transportation and tech companies gather to discuss digitizing and automating how the world moves freight.  Once again, I heard a consistent theme –  a major pain point for shippers is reducing the millions of days and billions of dollars wasted looking for trailers in distribution yards. 

This pain point was highly relevant because Outrider recently released its automated trailer inventory technology.  Outrider’s computer vision and deep-learning based system provide up-to-date tracking of the semi-trailers and containers in yards, bringing much-needed visibility and throughput to logistics hubs. Logistics center operators and truckers alike will be very pleased as this technology enables drivers to spend more time moving down the highway and less time stuck in yards.

Outrider’s autonomous vehicle traverses the yard collecting trailer inventory.

But trailer inventory management is only part of the problem-solution space. Distribution yards are filled with repetitive, manual tasks that make them highly inefficient, costly, and unsafe. For this reason, the 8VC summit included a full panel on “The Future of Yards.”  Carriers, third-party logistics companies, large enterprises, and technology providers confirmed that they were excited not only for better trailer asset tracking but also for how quickly autonomy could streamline logistics operations between the warehouse and the road — precisely the focus of Outrider since its founding. 

Capital continues to find its way into industrial automation where there is a near-term path to technical and financial viability. Distribution yards present challenges that can be solved now with autonomy, largely because most are located on private, well-defined, low-speed properties. Our technical and commercial leadership in yard automation led to our $73 million Series C financing round led by FM Capital. With these means, Outrider is working full-throttle to deliver our yard automation solution to our customers.

With a relentless focus on innovation and industrial-grade reliability, we’re well on our way to delivering the promise of yard autonomy. With the click of a button, our solution can dispatch multiple electric vehicles to move hundreds of tons of freight with multi-centimeter accuracy. Our logistics-dependent customers represent over 20% of the North American yard truck market. As the final aspects of our system roll out to customers, more and more of the 50,000 yard trucks operating in North American distribution yards will be electric and autonomous. 

Automating yards will result in freight moving more efficiently and also people doing safer, more human-friendly jobs. And yard operations are becoming more sustainable with our commitment to green technology. On day one of the company, we standardized our system on zero-emission electric vehicle platforms to reduce carbon dioxide and particulate emissions. Our customers share this commitment and are sourcing electric yard trucks specced for Outrider autonomous yard operations.

Over the past 5 years, I’ve spent countless hours in distribution yards.  Finding trailers is one of the many repetitive, manual tasks we’ve designed our autonomous system to address. Other manual tasks like high-precision trailer backing, brake line connections, and dock communications (to name a few) have all been automated to provide an integrated, simple user experience. Based on the dedicated work of Outrider’s engineers, yard operations are becoming elegantly streamlined for the carriers, 3PLs, and enterprises from the 8VC summit and the rest of the industry.

Andrew Smith, Founder and CEO

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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