Start-up reveals autonomous, electric system to handle yard operations

US start-up Outrider has received $53M in funding to automate distribution yards

Outrider's autonomous, zero-emission yard trucks feature vision-based robotics [Credit: Outrider]

Outrider, based in Golden, Colorado, has revealed autonomous, electric trucks designed for yard operations. The company hopes the solution will reduce workloads when moving trailers, as well as emissions. The company has been working privately on the project for two years.

It has raised $53 million in funding and deployed initial pilots of its Outrider System. The seed and series A funding rounds were led by NEA and 8VC, respectively.

Outrider has developed an integrated, three-part system through software, autonomous, zero-emission yard trucks that feature vision-based robotics, and site infrastructure. Outrider said in a release that its system can integrate with a variety of existing supply chain software.

Outrider says that its system is capable of moving trailers around the yard, moving trailers to and from loading docks, hitching and unhitching trailers, connecting and disconnecting trailer brake lines, and monitoring trailer locations.

Outrider is demonstrating its solution through pilot programs with Georgia-Pacific and four Fortune 200 companies in designated sections of their distribution yards. 

The company is building the trucks and surrounding system to a Level 4 Autonomy System Design.

Outrider has more than 75 employees including 50 engineers focused on distribution yard automation.

 “Logistics yards offer a confined, private-property environment and a set of discrete, repetitive tasks that make the ideal use case for autonomous technology. But today’s yards are also complex, often chaotic settings, with lots of work that’s performed manually,” said Andrew Smith, founder and CEO of Outrider. “This is why an overarching systems approach – with an autonomous truck at its center – is key to automating every major operation in the yard.”

 “We’re constantly looking for ways to transform our company and the way we get work done, especially making work safer and more efficient and productive,” said Annant Patel, Vice President of Automation Transformation at Georgia-Pacific. “Yard operations has been one of our opportunities, and Outrider has been a great partner to help us automate our pilot site.”

“Modern distribution yards won’t be just autonomous, they’ll be electric,” continued Smith. “Electric yard trucks are easier to operate and maintain than their diesel counterparts, and they lend themselves to better computer control. Our mission is to work with customers and suppliers to rapidly retire the more than 50,000 diesel-polluting yard trucks currently operating at logistics hubs throughout the U.S.”

 “Outrider is introducing the transformational technology required for large, logistics-dependent enterprises to keep pace,” said Jake Medwell, Founding Partner at 8VC. “We consider hundreds of investment opportunities in the logistics space every year. Our decision to be an early investor in Outrider was an easy one. Andrew’s vision and plan for the industry are highly compelling, and he’s mobilized an unmatched team to execute.”

Outrider is backed by NEA, 8VC, Koch Disruptive Technologies, Fraser McCombs Capital, Prologis Ventures, Schematic Ventures, Loup Ventures, and GOOSE Society of Texas.

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