Robotics & Automation News

Market trends and business perspectives

Outrider granted 11th US patent for its AI-powered autonomous yard automation system

Outrider, a developer of autonomous yard operations for logistics hubs, has been issued its latest patent, US Patent No 11,927,676, for the “Systems and Methods for Determining an Articulated Trailer Angle”.

The patent – Outrider’s 11th – covers the critical task of determining where a trailer is with respect to a self-driving tractor, facilitating safe and accurate autonomous trailer movement in all weather conditions.

Andrew Smith, founder and CEO of Outrider, says: “Outrider’s patent portfolio covers the numerous inventions, innovations, and technologies our team developed to re-define the logistics yard.

“In 2017, we recognized that autonomously moving 50,000-pound semi-trailers day and night in all-weather conditions would require unique inventions to dramatically improve the efficiency, safety, and sustainability of the global supply chain.”

Outrider now has 11 issued patents and over 50 pending patents in the US and internationally.

Shortly after its first patent was issued in August 2021, Outrider used its proprietary technology to perform fully autonomous trailer moves in a production environment – the industry’s first – at Georgia-Pacific in November 2021.

Since then, Outrider has completed tens of thousands of autonomous trailer moves for its customers in the package shipping, consumer packaged goods, automotive manufacturing, retail and eCommerce, and intermodal industries.

In the second half of 2024, Outrider will begin shipping its commercial system to top Fortune 500 customers.

Outrider has one or more patents or patents pending that cover the core technologies required for automating yards, including:

Autonomous yard operations

Outrider invented an end-to-end system for safely moving trailers autonomously.

This includes navigating obstacles in complex environments, hitching and unhitching from trailers using autonomous fifth wheel movement, connecting and disconnecting brake lines, precisely backing to warehouse dock doors and parking spots, tracking trailer inventory, monitoring electric yard truck charging, and managing autonomous operations.

Robotic connection of air brake and electrical lines

TrailerConnect® is Outrider’s adapter-based and adapterless method for connecting and disconnecting air brake and electrical lines on autonomous yard trucks to modified or unmodified semi-trailers and chassis.

Using deep learning, the commercial TrailerConnect will rapidly connect and disconnect to unmodified trailers in less than 30 seconds, and to captured fleets of trailers outfitted with low-cost adapters connect within seconds.

Loading dock operations

Outrider’s innovations additionally focus on safe autonomous operations at the loading dock – the connection point between the inside and outside of the facility.

Autonomous yard trucks communicate with proprietary dock door safety systems to determine whether a dock is ready for loading or unloading.

Dock door modification designs allow swing doors on trailers and shipping containers on chassis to be opened and resealed inside the facility while the trailer remains at the loading dock.

Subsequent pending patents further address Outrider’s innovations to address swing door opening in autonomous yards.

Vittorio Ziparo, CTO and executive vice president of engineering at Outrider, says: “This patent portfolio demonstrates the Outrider team’s continued commitment to automating the vast array of manual, repetitive tasks involved in inhospitable yard environments.

“These inventions combined with relentless attention to the safety, reliability, and scalability of our technology are changing the transportation and logistics of the global supply chain.”

The latest patent complements Outrider’s many industry firsts and patented innovations that facilitate fully autonomous trailer movement, including hitching, backing, trailer brake line connection, yard inventory tracking, as well as integration with warehouse, yard, and transportation management systems.

Outrider has employees in 10 countries developing and supporting industrial-grade automation technology.

Leave a Reply