A Denver-area autonomous vehicle startup made its public debut this week with a more than $50 million fundraising haul and the announcement of pilot projects at several large companies.
Outrider says it offers first-of-its-kind technology to help automate the distribution yards of large companies. A video issued by the company shows driverless cabs maneuvering containers at loading docks as an employee monitors the operation from a computer.
Although distribution yards offer the kind of confined, repetitive environment that could make it perfect for autonomous technologies, Outrider officials noted they can also be complicated and chaotic, with human workers still performing many different tasks.
In addition to moving containers around a yard, Outrider’s autonomous, electric cabs, according to the company, can also hitch and unhitch trailers and connect and disconnect their brake lines.
Officials also said its system integrates with supply chain software already in use by large companies. Outrider is conducting tests at four unnamed Fortune 200 companies and at paper goods giant Georgia-Pacific.
The company’s fundraising campaign, meanwhile, took in $53 million from numerous venture capital firms as well as logistics giant Prologis and the venture arm of Koch Industries — Georgia-Pacific’s parent company.
Ultimately, Outrider executives hope to establish logistics hubs that are safer, more efficient and more sustainable — founder Andrew Smith set a goal of rapidly retiring the more than 50,000 yard trucks in the U.S. that run on diesel fuel.