Not only can robots aid warehouse workers and self-driving trucks provide long-haul freight transit, but automation can also benefit logistics yards. Outrider Technologies Inc. this month announced the release of its next-generation autonomy kit for yard automation. The kit supports over-the-air software updates and field-swappable units to deliver enterprise-class reliability, enable remote technical support, and efficiently service the system in the field – all at scale, said the company.
“Distribution yards are harsh industrial environments with around-the-clock operations, which means our autonomous system must be rugged, easy to service, and remotely supportable,” said Andrew Smith, founder and CEO of Outrider. “This robust autonomy kit is the next critical step in Outrider’s efforts to make yard operations more efficient, safer, and more sustainable for our Fortune 500, logistics-dependent customers.”
Golden, Colo.-based Outrider has developed electric and autonomous yard trucks for logistics hubs. The company, which claimed that it is the only one focusing exclusively on automating all aspects of yard operations, said it can eliminate manual tasks that are hazardous and repetitive.
Autonomy kit enables Class 8 self-driving vehicles
With its new autonomy kit and proprietary software, Outrider said it can transform Class 8 battery-electric yard trucks into fully autonomous vehicles. Outrider said its integrated autonomy kit includes the NVIDIA DRIVE platform for perception system processing, Ouster’s high-resolution lidar sensors for perception, and Yaskawa’s industrial robot arm for connecting and disconnecting trailer lines.
Outrider has designed an autonomy-ready electric yard truck with Orange EV. The company and its customers have purchased 24 of these vehicles for expanded customer pilots and tests with the latest autonomy kit.
“This is the single largest purchase of Class 8 electric vehicles specifically designed for autonomous yard operations in the industry and demonstrates how Outrider will be a catalyst for bringing thousands of zero-emission vehicles into the marketplace,” claimed Tom Baroch, head of global supply management at Outrider.
The latest autonomy kit and drive-by-wire yard truck incorporate operational, design, and technical experience gleaned from over 12,000 autonomous trailer moves conducted at customer sites and Outrider’s Advanced Testing Facility in Brighton, Colo. Using data collected from these moves, the company said its kit can address scenarios encountered by yard trucks in real distribution yards, from the common to the obscure.
“This next-generation autonomy kit further highlights Outrider’s commitment to our customers for a more sustainable, resilient supply chain,” said Smith. “Our team of over 100 talented engineers is laser-focused on the features and safety-critical capabilities that will propel innovations for yard automation and the logistics and transportation sector at large.”
In addition, customers planning future vehicle purchases may now order yard trucks with the “Autonomous Outrider Specification.”
Outrider automates multiple tasks
In addition to automating the yard truck, Outrider said it automates other manual tasks traditionally performed in the yard, including the following:
- Hitching and unhitching trailers
- Connecting and disconnecting trailer lines
- Interacting safely with loading docks
- Tracking trailer locations
- Integrating with supply chain management systems
- Centrally managing and monitoring system functions
The company has partnered with many large, logistics-dependent enterprises that represent over 20% of all yard trucks operating in North America. It also maintains a broad ecosystem of technology vendors and infrastructure partners.
Outrider has raised $118 million in funding to date and developed extensive intellectual property. The private company is backed by NEA, 8VC, Koch Disruptive Technologies, and other investors.
Fast Company recently recognized Outrider in its 2022 “World’s Most Innovative Companies” list, placing it in the top 10 within the Logistics category.