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Dude! Where’s my trailer? Outrider can find it

Startup adds inventory tracking to its automated distribution yard offerings

Outrider Inc. is adding trailer tracking to its suite of autonomous distribution yard features. (Photo: Outrider)

Outrider Inc., whose automated distribution yard robotics led to a $73 million capital raise in a brutal market for startup funding, is adding computer vision and deep learning to track wayward semi-trailers.

The patent-pending trailer inventory technology provides real-time tracking of trailers and containers in yards. That includes trailers missing radio frequency identification tags.

Trailers are constantly on the move in distribution yards for unloading, cleaning, loading, staging and storage. Sometimes, they get lost. Finding them requires yard personnel to run them down either on foot or by driving a vehicle, then manually updating their location.

‘Pain point of yard operations’

“Misplaced trailers, containers, and chassis are a universal pain point of yard operations and over-the-road trucking,” Andrew Smith, founder and CEO of Outrider, said in a news release. “Our trailer inventory solution brings much-needed visibility and insight to maximize productivity and yard throughput.”

Outrider uses technology already installed on its autonomous electric yard trucks to collect the locations of parked trailers during routine operations or as needed. Sensors and proprietary and deep learning-enabled computer vision algorithms detect vacant or occupied parking spots and capture trailer identification numbers and standard carrier alpha codes and other characteristics. 

Outrider’s cloud-based management software enables, manages and records trailer inventory. That helps yard dispatchers, warehouse operators and transportation managers improve decision-making and efficiency. Outrider shares the real-time data with customers’ warehouse, yard or transportation systems via its application programming interface.

Trailer tracking was always part of Outrider’s plan

The commercial release of trailer inventory is Outrider’s latest advanced yard technology. Earlier applications included deep-learning-based robotic brake line connections, high-precision articulated backing and autonomous hitching for diverse trailer weights and orientations. 

“We realized at the founding of the company that we couldn’t just automate the vehicles but [we had to consider] all these manual tasks that were taking place in the yard,” Smith told FreightWaves. “Yard inventory was a key part of our strategy of providing this integrated, turnkey solution. This is something we have been working on for quite some time.”

Outrider raises $73M to scale autonomous distribution yard business

Outrider extends autonomous distribution yard work to backing up trailers

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Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

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Alan Adler

Alan Adler is an award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.