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April 22, 2021

Sustainably moving freight

Andrew Smith

Founder and CEO

On Earth Day, the world turns its attention to the environment — and, rightly so. There is a massive challenge and opportunity in front of us to drive up standards of living for nearly 8 billion people worldwide while still protecting the air, land, water, and wilderness of the planet.

Transportation is the second leading source of greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. There are countless ways to remake how we move goods for a more sustainable supply chain. At Outrider, we focus on distribution yards — the critical link between the warehouse and over-the-road trucks. In 2020, distribution yards handled more than 10 billion tons of freight annually in North America alone. 

Distribution yard activity contributes significantly to emissions. Fifty thousand diesel yard trucks emit more than 3.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. Furthermore, due to congestion at these facilities, over-the-road trucks waste an estimated 200 million gallons of diesel fuel simply waiting in distribution yards to drop off or pick up trailers. Combined, yard trucks and semi-trucks in distribution yards emit more carbon dioxide than two coal-fired power plants annually.

In observance of Earth Day, I reassert Outrider’s commitment to prioritize zero-emission platforms for our autonomous systems.

Within distribution yards, diesel yard trucks are continuously moving semi-trailers and containers to and from parking spots and loading docks. Distribution yard inefficiencies slow down operations within warehouses and factories, as well as create congestion for diesel-fueled over-the-road trucking operations.

When we started Outrider in 2017, we could have taken the short-sighted but potentially easier path of installing our automation technology onto diesel yard trucks. Instead, we decided from day one that the Outrider System would be built on electric truck platforms supplied by forward-thinking original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

In observance of Earth Day, I reassert Outrider’s commitment to prioritize zero-emission platforms for our autonomous systems. Given our deep understanding of the market, I also predict that more than 50% of all new yard truck purchases by 2025 will be electric, compared to less than 5% in 2020. We will see this 10x improvement because: 

  • In the last three years, the largest competitive players in retail, package shipping, consumer packaged goods, manufacturing, and intermodal shipping are moving quickly toward autonomous and electric yard operations.
  • The benefits of yard automation will drive the demand for electric yard trucks, which provide a more stable, cleaner power supply necessary for autonomous operations.
  • Compared to diesel trucks, electric yard trucks have lower costs of ownership due to reduced maintenance, reduced energy costs, and no emissions treatments.
  • Competition in the electric yard truck market and the lower cost of batteries have and will continue to drive down vehicle prices.
  • The environmental benefits of electric vehicles will only increase as more and more renewable energy, such as solar and wind, are used to power the electrical grid.

Innovative companies are responsible for building the “new normal.” The new normal for the global supply chain is to be highly automated and sustainable. At Outrider, we have developed unmatched autonomous capabilities for hitching, backing, and maneuvering freight more safely and efficiently in distribution yards — and we have done all of this on electric truck platforms. 

We’re partnering with the leading electric truck suppliers in the industry so we can remain focused on delivering best-in-class autonomous capabilities. This enables us to be trusted advisors to large enterprises about electric yard truck purchasing decisions and automation.

While many challenges face the world this Earth Day, we celebrate alongside our customers and partners the zero-emission autonomous technology that allows the world’s freight to move through distribution centers with the click of a button and clean electricity.

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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