Patented technology enables self-driving yard trucks to move millions of semi-trailers through logistics hubs.
Golden, CO – Outrider, the pioneer in autonomous yard operations for logistics hubs, announced the release of TrailerConnect™ – a patented technology that robotically attaches the needed brake and electric lines from yard trucks to any of the over 10 million semi-trailers and chassis circulating globally. A deep-learning-based technology, TrailerConnect is now available as part of the Outrider System, which automates distribution yards for large, logistics-dependent enterprises.
In distribution yards around the globe, yard trucks transition trailers from dock doors to parking spots to public roads. To move these trailers, truck drivers connect pressurized brake lines to trailers to release the parking brake and move the trailers around the yard – a manual, often dangerous task that requires the driver to get in and out of the cab constantly.
“Outrider is reinventing the modern distribution yard to be more efficient, safer, and sustainable, and we are delivering the breakthrough technology like TrailerConnect to do it,” said Andrew Smith, CEO and Founder of Outrider. “TrailerConnect automates a dangerous task traditionally performed over 6 billion times annually worldwide. Four years of development and close partnerships with our priority customers has resulted in a technology integral to autonomously moving freight.”
While trailers may look very similar, the connections – the coupling devices used to connect the brake and electric lines from truck to trailer – are quite different. As a result, there are countless configurations and placements across trailer fleets. TrailerConnect uses proprietary software algorithms, hardware, and sensors integrated into Yaskawa Motoman-supplied robots to locate, identify, connect to, and disconnect from trailers without modifications or adapters.
“Outrider understood it would be infeasible to modify entire trailer fleets to address the diversity of connections,” said Matt Johannes, Vice President of Hardware Engineering and Robotics at Outrider. “To automate yards, we brought together an exceptional team with expertise in robotics, perception, and deep learning to ensure safer, more efficient autonomous yard operations.”
The patented TrailerConnect technology is the latest in a series of industry-firsts for Outrider. Achievements include the first-to-market yard automation solution that performs fully autonomous, zero-emission trailer moves; high-precision autonomous articulated backing; and autonomous hitching for diverse trailer weights and orientations. Outrider has performed tens of thousands of fully autonomous trailer moves across its Fortune 500 customer sites and at its full-scale Advanced Testing facility.
“The rollout of TrailerConnect combined with a long list of technical firsts further solidifies Outrider’s leadership position in the industry and has a massive impact on the trucking sector at large,” said Julian Counihan, general partner at Schematic Ventures, which specializes in supply chain and commerce infrastructure. “Autonomous yard operations – a critical part of a streamlined global supply chain – is simply not a reality without the ability for self-driving vehicles to connect to and from trailers.”
Outrider has raised $118 million in funding and holds extensive intellectual property. The company operates the first-in-industry Advanced Testing Facility for autonomous yard operations designed to mimic its customers’ distribution yards from industries such as consumer packaged goods, retail and eCommerce, package shipping, and manufacturing. Outrider continues to be recognized in the industry for its achievements in autonomy, including Fast Company’s prestigious 2022 World’s Most Innovative Companies list, placing in the top 10 within the Logistics category.