Outrider raises $73 million to bring its self-driving electric yard trucks to the mainstream – TechCrunch
Autonomous vehicle technology may no longer be the fuel that powers the hype machine. But companies that apply the technology to agricultural, commercial and logistics applications still attract venture capital.
Take for example Outrider, a startup from Golden, Colorado that develops self-driving electric yard trucks.
Distribution yards are the nerve center of the supply chain. This is where all of those goods (like those ordered from Amazon and other e-commerce companies) make the transition from long-haul trucks, to warehouses, and ultimately to the consumer. Today, workers use diesel-powered yard trucks to move trailers full of goods around the yard as well as to and from loading docks.
Outrider has developed a self-contained system that includes an electric yard truck, software to manage site operations and infrastructure. Although humans may still be needed in the distribution yard, the autonomous system handles most of the work, including coupling and uncoupling trailers, connecting and disconnecting trailer brake lines, and monitoring trailer locations.
The revenue potential of this system – there are approximately 400,000 distribution yards in the United States alone – has caught the attention of a number of investors. Outrider recently closed a $73 million Series C funding round led by FM Capital and attracted new investors from Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and NVIDIA’s venture capital group NVentures. New investors B37 Ventures, Lineage Ventures, Presidio Ventures, the venture capital arm of Sumitomo Corporation, and ROBO Global Ventures also joined existing backers Koch Disruptive Technologies and New Enterprise Associates.
Outrider has raised $191 million since its inception in 2017 as Azevtec.
The company has made progress since its last increase in fall 2020. Outrider founder and CEO Andrew Smith told TechCrunch that the construction trucks have new hardware designed to handle harsh environments, including robotic arms. Outrider has 20 stand-alone systems in use at customer sites and in its test facility as the company completes the system’s final capabilities and proprietary security mechanisms, Smith said.
These final adjustments to the system will end in 2023, he added. From there, the focus will be on initiating commercial operations with its customers, including Georgia Pacific and other anonymous companies that have invested in joint product testing and pilot operations since 2019. Smith said that Outrider customers represent over 20% of all yard trucks operating in the North. America.
The new funds will be used to hire in the United States and internationally (beyond its 175-person workforce) and move from testing and validation to full-scale commercial operations, Smith said.
“It’s one thing to have a vehicle that drives autonomously, it’s quite another to create a real industrial system that can operate in a harsh environment for several years, 20 to 24 hours a day, 365 days a day. year,” Smith said. Productizing the system and integrating these final capabilities will then allow us to scale to thousands of systems running on Outrider software over the next few years.
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