Outrider Secures Funds For Yard Automation Startup
Published on Mar 13, 2020
As though they rose out from the smoke, the new startup Outrider recently announced that they have raised $53 million in funding for their yard automation system. The funding will go toward creating electric vehicles and autonomous systems that will enhance the efficiency, safety, and sustainability of yard operations.
Outrider is Looking to Fill a Void
There has been an explosion of automation across the supply chain in recent years. Tech and engineering companies have been working tirelessly to automate the logistics of both indoor warehouse operations and OTR driving... but what about everything in between?
Products move from the warehouse to the yard to the road, but there aren’t a lot of companies looking at the logistics of that middle step. Yard operations are still manual, tedious, and sometimes even dangerous.
Outrider, formerly known as Azevtec, is looking to step into the game of yard automation. And the company has a sole focus on enhancing the movement of freight throughout the yard.
Let’s also consider what would happen if yard operations weren’t automated. You could, in theory, have robots running the warehouse and sending goods to the self-driving trucks, but there’d be no way to automate the hand-off from robot to truck. It would still either be totally human-based, or you’d have to create an entirely new system in order to make a smooth transition.
Outrider is looking to automate the middle step, as it currently stands, to ensure that the technology remains consistent throughout the supply chain. The goal is to ensure freight can quickly and efficiently move from the warehouse doors to the public roads—just as autonomously and safely as all the other processes.
Their primary goal is to replace today’s yard trucks with new electric vehicles with Level 4 autonomy features. These trucks, paired with automation in the other parts of the supply chain, can dramatically improve safety within distribution center yards.
Some other processes they’re hoping to automate include:
Moving trailers around the yard remotely
Moving trailers to and from loading docks with reduced wait times
Hitching and unhitching trailers
Connecting and disconnecting brakes
Monitoring trailer locations and tracking assets throughout the yard
There will be three main components to Outrider’s automation system:
A web-based interface will allow users to move vehicles around the yard remotely from their dashboard
The modular site infrastructure ensures the autonomous vehicles operate safely with workers, personnel, and other machines
The sensors and robotics, along with the electric trucks, will create a start-to-finish chain of autonomy
Outrider also stated that this software will also be able to easily integrate with existing warehouse and yard management systems. Their autonomous yard trucks should also be able to work in tandem with other electric, self-driving trucks.
The Outrider team currently consists of 75 employees, 50 of which are engineers focused exclusively on distribution yard automation processes. Together, their team has more than 100 years of experience in ground-vehicle autonomy. This seems to be a promising team to drive forward automation processes.
The Benefits of Yard Operations Automation
Easy to implement
The yard environment is naturally easy to automate. It’s a highly controlled environment with a lot of repetition. These sorts of tasks make it an ideal application for robotic vehicles. In the beginning phases of automation, implementation in this kind of environment is less risky and has a higher chance of realizing success.
One of Outrider’s primary goals is to reduce the danger found in the yard. A lot of the manual processes are still incredibly hazardous, and there are a lot of accidents (both to people and equipment) that still occur. With 80,000-pound equipment pieces, operating all hours in all conditions, accidents are commonplace. Outrider’s automation software will develop safety enhancements to make accidents a lot less frequent and a lot less dangerous.
Electric vehicles are more eco-friendly than diesel fuel vehicles, especially since these trucks are often idling in the yard just to move trailers a few hundred feet back and forth. Rather than just automating today’s vehicles, Outrider is looking to develop cleaner vehicles with the next-generation of yard equipment to take sustainability to the next level.
Raising Outrider’s initial seed money was led by NEA, and their Series A funding was spearheaded by 8VC. Other investors include Koch Disruptive Technologies, Fraser McCombs Capital, Prologis, Schematic Ventures, Loup Ventures, and Goose Society of Texas.
Outrider also teamed up with Georgia-Pacific and four Fortune 200 companies to launch pilot programs in their distribution yards.
The Future of the Yard
The supply chain needs automation in its entirety. Distribution center yards are the piece of the puzzle that’s been missing thus far in logistics technology.
We’re excited that Outrider will be stepping up to the plate. They could potentially tackle yard operations to make it faster, safer, and more sustainable for the future of logistics. We believe in these core values at Redwood Logistics as well. We use brilliant minds and advanced technology with all of our services to modernize your supply chain from A to Z, and we’re thrilled to have a new startup on the scene to help enhance our offerings to you as well.
Contact us to start chatting about custom solutions made for you, and see how we can use technology advancements and automation to improve your logistics.