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Outrider Equips Robot Arms to Autonomous Trucks for Logistics Yards

Outrider TrailerConnect logistics yard autonomous connections

Outrider, which develops autonomous yard operations for logistics hubs, has announced TrailerConnect – a technology that robotically attaches needed brake and electric lines from yard trucks to semi-trailers and chassis. Based on deep learning technology, TrailerConnect is now available as part of the Outrider System, which automates distribution yards for large, logistics-dependent enterprises.

The company explained that yard trucks transition trailers from dock doors to parking spots to public roads. In order 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 and 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 for autonomously moving freight.”

Coupling devices that are used to connect brake and electric lines from truck to trailer vary greatly, Outrider said. This results in 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.

TrailerConnect uses proprietary software algorithms and sensors to connect to a wide variety of trailer connections and 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.”

Other technology adopted by Outrider include its yard automation solution that performs fully autonomous, zero-emission trailer moves; autonomous articulated backing; and autonomous hitching for diverse trailer weights and orientations. The company said it 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 first 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. “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.”

For more details on Outrider and its technologies, visit its website here.

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