Outrider Robotics Aid Autonomous Trucks at Hubs

Source: Outrider announcement

BRIGHTON, Col. — 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.

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“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 six 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 onto 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.”