Outrider wants to do for yard trucks what Waymo did for ridesharing, and what Einride did for trucking, by providing autonomous alternatives. The company has raised a $53 million haul toward doing so, according to reports.
The company, founded in 2017, has a goal to generate automatic vehicle transport in freight hubs, intending to reduce safety risks and costs. The $53 million in Seed funding, announced on Wednesday (Feb. 19), comes from NEA, with Series A funding by 8VC.
Outrider is also conducting pilot tests with four Fortune 200 companies, as well as Georgia-Pacific, one of the world’s largest manufacturers and distributors of tissue, pulp, paper and more.
Founder and CEO Andrew Smith said that the logistics of operating a freight yard were complex and chaotic, and that the use of artificial intelligence had become a necessity to navigate the myriad of manual tasks available in such an environment. He added that the electric trucks were easier to operate and maintain, as opposed to the manual counterparts, and that the company wanted to work with everyone possible to retire the 50,000 diesel-polluting yard trucks currently in operation around the country at similar logistics hubs.
Rather than own or operate the vehicles itself, Outrider uses a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) program to enact customer-owned vehicles — both fully and semi-autonomous — to work in the freight and transportation businesses. Humans will be on deck as technicians, monitoring the progress of the fleets remotely.
The fleets are currently in use in the fields of distribution centers, warehouses, rail yards and more. Currently, their main responsibility is to move trailers around the yard to and from loading docks. They are also used for things like hitching and unhitching trailers, connecting and disconnecting brake lines, and monitoring the locations of objects.
Self-driving vehicles are on the rise in the U.S., with congressional lawmakers heading into session soon to hash out rules that could place tens of thousands of them on the roads, if they meet certain standards.