February 22, 2024

It’s 2024, and we are shipping our commercial system later this year

Andrew Smith

Founder and CEO

Later this year, the world’s largest F500 companies will begin autonomously and driverlessly transitioning freight between their logistics facilities and over-the-road trucking using the commercial Outrider System.

Since we started working on the system five years ago, the world economy and supply chain have been constantly in flux. We’ve seen a pandemic, international conflicts, economic growth and recession, record temperatures, and extreme weather events – all causing disruptions to the global supply chain. One constant has been that companies are eager to invest in supply chain resiliency, efficiency, and cost savings with initiatives in automation.

Customers have invested millions of dollars in automation inside warehouses and are now eager to see the benefits of automation ripple into yards. The typical distribution yard is inefficient, difficult to staff, and riddled with safety risks, causing disruptions, backlogs, and costly delays up and down the supply chain. Yards are ideal for automation because they are filled with repetitive, manual, and hazardous tasks involved in moving trailers short distances multiple times for unloading, cleaning, loading, staging, and storage.

To automate yards, we built a fully integrated, safety-critical autonomous system that continuously learns about its environment using artificial intelligence – delivered on a zero-emission electric truck platform. In preparation for shipping our commercial system, we’ve moved tens of thousands of semi-trailers for loading and unloading freight at customer sites, rigorously tested our safety mechanisms, released new features and capabilities, integrated with customers’ yard and warehouse management systems, and launched our technical support capabilities. 

Outrider’s next-gen system is dedicated to making distribution yards more efficient, safer, and more sustainable.

Complete, fully integrated system

We knew we couldn’t just throw some sensors and actuation on a yard truck and expect to automate the yard. Outrider’s multi-disciplinary team of engineers designed and built a comprehensive, fully integrated system that autonomously maneuvers through a yard, hitches, connects brake lines, tracks trailer inventory, and works with other actors in the yard. 

One of the most challenging tasks to automate was connecting the brake lines without modifying the trailers. While trailers may look very similar, there are countless configurations of connection points across trailer fleets. Our patented TrailerConnect technology uses deep learning and robotic manipulation to connect to any trailer or container chassis that passes through a yard.

The entire system comes together with our easy-to-use cloud software and integrates with customers’ yard, warehouse, or transportation management systems. Customers use these applications onsite or remotely to dispatch autonomous vehicles, track trailer inventory, and coordinate trailer moves with manually driven yard trucks – all without setting foot in a dangerous shipping yard. Outrider’s remote monitoring and technical support ensures uptime and high performance of the autonomous system.

Safety-critical system

We understood taking a methodical approach to safety would be critical to our long-term success and our customers’ top priority. Trained by millions of data points from F500 logistics yards, our AI-driven perception technology enables the Outrider System to safely work side-by-side with everything in the yard – other yard trucks, over-the-road semi-trucks, trailers, delivery trucks, golf carts, pallets, personnel, and more. We combined these capabilities with redundant safety mechanisms, merging the benefits of machine learning with traditional safety approaches used for industrial operations. Through this work, we are setting the standard for industrial autonomous system safety. 

Outrider’s latest perception technology understands and anticipates its environment to efficiently and safely move trailers in the yard.

Zero-emission system

While we could automate any yard truck platform, we knew focusing our product on electric vehicle (EV) platforms supports and reinforces the demand for clean, efficient transportation. Our EV-first approach aligns highly with our customers’ commitment to reducing their carbon footprints. Our customers are working closely with us to select the best electric yard trucks that are autonomy-ready at the lowest cost of ownership in the industry.

Faster and smarter system

Leveraging AI and deep learning, the Outrider System continually learns from real-world experience and applies that knowledge to how it operates in logistics yards. The latest release already delivers more than a 30% increase in trailer move speed with tighter backing maneuvers, faster brake line connections, and higher precision hitching. Subsequent releases will address more operating environments and more of the “long tail” issues that have historically limited automation in industrial settings. With this ever-growing intelligence, the Outrider System will operate faster and smarter than manual operations. 

Developing this system has taken five years of development, more than $100M in investment, and deep partnerships with customers and suppliers – collaboration for which we are extremely grateful. Outrider has nearly 200 people with experience in autonomy, robotics, and transportation and logistics exclusively focused on delivering a commercial, driverless yard automation system this year. With this focus and conviction, we will continue reinventing how logistics yards operate and initiate a change reaction of benefits across the supply chain.

Here’s to 2024 and beyond!

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.

You might also like

November 14, 2023

Navigating challenges and seizing opportunities as a female engineer

A career in the tech industry has always been in the cards for ... READ MORE

November 09, 2023

Alleviating the Bullwhip Effect: The Promise of Autonomous Logistics

The year is 2020. The COVID pandemic is in full swing, and there ... READ MORE

August 28, 2023

An inside look at an Outrider internship

I’ve been in aerospace engineering since undergrad, and have always had a passion ... READ MORE