Outrider's technology robotically attaches brake and electric lines from yard trucks to any of...

Outrider's technology robotically attaches brake and electric lines from yard trucks to any of about 10 million semi-trailers and chassis circulating globally.

Photo: Outrider

Autonomous yard truck company, Outrider has developed patented TrailerConnect technology that robotically attaches the needed brake and electric lines from yard trucks to any of about 10 million semi-trailers and chassis circulating globally. A deep-learning based technology, TrailerConnect is available as part of the Outrider System, which automates distribution yards for large, logistics-dependent enterprises.

In distribution yards, 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 in a statement. “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 — can be quite different. As a result, there are countless configurations and placements across trailer fleets. TrailerConnect uses 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,” added 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.”

Outrider's TrailerConnect technology is the latest in a series of achievements for the company, including a 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. 

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