As featured in FreightWaves: Outrider ready to scale distribution yard autonomy. 

Startup working with Nvidia and Orange EV to advance yard robotics.

Five-year-old startup Outrider is ready to scale its autonomous approach to logistics hubs, aiming to eliminate freight inefficiency.

The Golden, Colorado-based company is releasing a next-generation autonomy kit for yard automation. Over-the-air software updates and the ability to to swap autonomous yard tractors also include remote technical support.

“Distribution yards are harsh industrial environments with around-the-clock operations, Andrew Smith, Outrider founder and CEO, said in a press release. That requires rugged, easy-to-service and remotely supportable products

Founded in 2017, Outrider is unique in its focus on automating distribution yards. Partners include Georgia-Pacific. As of November, the Atlanta-based pulp and paper manufacturers had completed more than 1,000 autonomous trailer moves at its Chicago distribution center.

Outrider claims its client base represents more than 20% of yard trucks operating in the U.S.

NEA, 8VC, Koch Disruptive Technologies, Fraser McCombs Capital, warehousing giant Prologis, Schematic Ventures, Loup Ventures and Goose Society of Texas are Outrider’s backers. It raised $118 million in two funding rounds in February and October 2020.

Outrider goes Orange

The next-generation autonomy kit includes the Nvidia Drive autonomous vehicle platform for perception system processing; high-resolution lidar sensors from Ouster for perception; and an industrial robotic arm from Yaskawa for connecting and disconnecting trailer lines.

The autonomy kit is installed and integrated on autonomy-ready Class 8 battery-electric yard trucks. Outrider uses the kit and proprietary software to transform yard trucks into fully autonomous vehicles.

The company is working with Orange EV on a specified autonomy-ready electric yard truck. Outrider and its customers have purchased 24 of these vehicles for expanded customer pilot programs and test operations 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,” said Tom Baroch, Outrider head of global supply management. “It demonstrates how Outrider will be a catalyst for bringing thousands of zero-emission vehicles into the marketplace,”

The company used technical experience gained from more than 12,000 autonomous trailer moves at customer sites and its advanced testing facility in Brighton, Colorado, to create the new autonomy kit and drive-by-wire yard truck. The kit addresses common and obscure scenarios encountered by yard trucks in real distribution yards.

Outrider automates other manual tasks traditionally performed in the yard — such as autonomously hitching and unhitching trailers; connecting and disconnecting trailer lines; interacting safely with loading docks; tracking trailer locations; and integrating with supply chain management systems — while centrally managing and monitoring system functions.

Fast Company listed Outrider at No. 7 among its top 10 logistics providers in its 2022 World’s Most Innovative Companies list.

Published: July 7, 2022/FreightWaves/