Self-driving yard truck developer Outrider has developed a system to robotically connect electric and pressurized brake lines to trailers and container chassis.
The Golden, Colo., company’s TrailerConnect system uses robotic arms from Yaskawa Electric Corp. and reduces the need for drivers to constantly get in and out of truck cabs to manually make the connections.
Moreover, Outrider’s system addresses the problem of cargo containers with different connecting systems by using the robot arms to locate and identify different connection patterns among trailers.
The technology relies on software-based algorithms, hardware and sensors that are integrated into the robot arms and is part of Outrider’s goal to provide electric, self-driving trucks to automate freight yards.
“TrailerConnect automates a dangerous task traditionally performed over 6 billion times annually worldwide,” Outrider CEO Andrew Smith said.
Outrider says TrailerConnect and its vehicles can give businesses with large warehouses and distribution centers automated operations by allowing its self-driving yard trucks to robotically back trailers into dock spots, hitch and unhitch trailers and brake lines.
Outrider spent four years developing TrailerConnect with the input from its customers.
In 2021, Outrider worked with consumer-packaged goods giant Georgia-Pacific to equip its Elmwood, Ill., distribution center with vehicles that completed 1,000 autonomous, zero-emission trailer moves.
Outrider also has new plans to advance how its trucks are powered. They’re currently plugged in by workers when they’re inspected between shifts. But in the future, the trucks will be charged by driving over inductive coils in the yard, and charging will be scheduled and monitored by Outrider’s software.
Founded in 2017, Outrider has raised $118 million from investors, including industrial warehouse giant Prologis, Koch Disruptive Technologies and Evolv Ventures, Kraft Heinz’ $100 million venture fund.