Precision semi-trailer backing for autonomous trucks

Outrider, a pioneer in autonomous yard operations for logistics hubs, has released fully autonomous trailer backing capabilities to its fleet. This proprietary technology enables autonomous yard trucks to back trailers into tight spaces with precision and without modifications to trailers. These capabilities are now available as part of the Outrider System, which automates distribution yards for large, logistics-dependent enterprises.

“Automation is key to relieving the inflationary pressure on the supply chain,” said Andrew Smith, Founder and CEO of Outrider. “Distribution yards are critical links in the supply chain and prime targets for automating the flow of goods between over-the-road transportation and fulfilment centres, warehouses and manufacturing plants. Automating yards requires backing trailers of all kinds safely and precisely into parking spots and dock spots billions of times a year.”

Articulated backing is one of the most challenging manoeuvres in the trucking industry, especially in confined distribution yards. Backing technology is crucial to autonomous yard operations because a wide variety of trailers must be backed into dock spots and parking spots without damage. Specific to backing into dock spots, trailers must be on-centre and in exact contact with the docks – all within finite spaces.

Outrider’s articulated backing technology is fully autonomous, adheres to strict operational requirements, and is capable of seamlessly controlling a trailer through its full range of motion. With this technology, the Outrider System is able to precisely back the diversity of semi-trailers that are used in the industry, including 28-foot, 48-foot, and 53-foot dry van trailers, containers, and refrigerated trailers – all without teleoperation or other types of human interaction.

“By developing advanced algorithms and integrating with sensors and actuation, we’ve delivered the accurate trailer backing necessary for yard automation,” said Jeremy Nett, Vice President of Software Engineering at Outrider. “Outrider validated this proprietary technology at its Advanced Testing Facility and customer sites – running under multiple conditions, day and night. This achievement is a result of a highly collaborative cross-functional effort across our perception, motion planning and controls, hardware, and test teams to develop and commercialise this technology.”

The Outrider System consists of three integrated parts — management software, autonomous vehicles, and site infrastructure. In addition to the latest articulated backing technology, the Outrider System uses proprietary autonomy technology to hitch to and unhitch from trailers, robotically connect and disconnect trailer brake lines, interact safely with loading docks, track trailer locations, and centrally manage and monitor all system functions.

“While other autonomous vehicle companies focus on safely pulling trailers down a highway, Outrider is focused on efficiently moving the world’s freight through congested distribution yards,” added Smith. “With this backing technology, our customers can automate their distribution yards as they continue to respond to the global demand for their products.”

 

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