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Automated hitching capabilities for supply chain/trucking

By Chris Dawson July 30, 2021 - 10:10 am

Forgive me for loving big boys toys, whether it be remote control cars, model trains or model planes, I love them all, so you can see why Outrider announcement that they not only a pioneer in autonomous yard operations for logistics hubs, but are now also the first company to offer advanced, tractor-trailer automated hitching capabilities. This patent-pending technology is now available as part of the Outrider System, which automates distribution yards for large, logistics-dependent enterprises.

Just about every distribution centre, whether it be a courier hub, a supermarket depot, or a large ecommerce merchant will have multiple movements a day where a trailer needs backing up to a bay to tip it’s load or to be reloaded with outgoing goods ready for haulage. With the current shortage of drivers, why waste man hours paying someone to pull trailers around the yard when a fully autonomous tractor can not only move the trailers but can now have automated hitching and unhitching?

“Nearly all the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and the materials we use are transported by trucks and trailers. Outrider automates yard operations, helping enterprises improve the efficiency and safety of a critical step in their supply chains. Hitching and unhitching is an integral part of yard automation and the global trucking industry, occurring millions of times per day.”
– Andrew Smith, Founder and CEO, Outrider

Outrider autonomous yard operations for logistics hubs now offer advanced, tractor-trailer automated hitching capabilitiesDistribution yards – the area between the warehouse and the public road – have a high concentration of repetitive hitching due to constant re-positioning of trailers. The Outrider System uses this new advanced technology to hitch and unhitch from trailers reliably and consistently in order to move them to and from parking spots and dock doors at distribution centers.

Using advanced perception, motion planning, and proprietary control algorithms, Outrider’s technology enables its autonomous yard trucks to optimally align in front of semi-trailers, back under the trailer, and attach the fifth wheel (the connection point of the truck) to the kingpin (the connection point on the trailer) with extreme precision. Not only does the Outrider System connect with millimeter accuracy, but also it uses sensors to confirm a successful kingpin connection without requiring manual verification.

““Most autonomous trucking companies are focused on moving trailers down long stretches of public roads. Outrider is focused on moving trailers in distribution yards, where autonomous hitching technology is critical to automating the entire operation. There is an endless array of slight differences in trailer position and configuration when a truck connects to a trailer. Outrider’s engineers have built groundbreaking technology that adapts in real-time to hitch to trailers of diverse heights, weights, and orientations.”
– Andrew Smith, Founder and CEO, Outrider

The Outrider System consists of three integrated elements — management software, autonomous vehicles, and site infrastructure. Using proprietary autonomy technology, the Outrider System hitches to and un-hitches from trailers, robotically connects and disconnects trailer brake lines, interacts safely with loading docks, tracks trailer locations, and centrally manages and monitors all system functions.

If you have a large distribution depot and are interested in finding out more about autonomous tractors with automated hitching and unhitching, head over to the Outrider website.

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