Outrider raises $73M to bring its autonomous electric vans to the mainstream • TechCrunch

Autonomous vehicle technology may not be the fuel that fuels the hype machine. But companies applying the technology in agricultural, commercial and logistics applications still attract venture capital.

Take Outrider, a startup in Golden, Colorado that is developing autonomous electric vans, for example.

Distribution yards are the nerve center of the supply chain. All of that merchandise (such as those ordered from Amazon and other e-commerce companies) moves from long-haul trucks to warehouses, and ultimately to the consumer. Today workers use diesel-powered yard trucks to haul trailers full of merchandise around the yard as well as to and from the loading docks.

Outrider has developed a self-developed system that includes an electric yard truck, and software to manage site operations and infrastructure. While humans may still be needed in the distribution yard, an autonomous system handles the bulk of the work, including connecting and unplugging trailers, connecting and disconnecting trailer brake lines and monitoring trailer locations.

The revenue potential from this system—there are about 400,000 distribution yards in the United States alone—has attracted the attention of a number of investors. Outrider recently closed a $73 million Series C round led by FM Capital and attracted new investors Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and NVIDIA venture capital group NVentures. New investors B37 Ventures, Lineage Ventures, Presidio Ventures, the investment arm of Sumitomo Corporation, and ROBO Global Ventures, along with existing backers Koch Disruptive Technologies and New Enterprise Associates, also joined.

Outrider has It collected $191 million Since its foundation in 2017 under the name of Azevtec.

The company has made some progress since its last raise in fall 2020. Outrider founder and CEO Andrew Smith told TechCrunch that its yard trucks have new hardware designed to handle harsh environments, including automatic weapons. Smith said Outrider has 20 standalone systems in use at customer sites and its test facility as the company finalizes the system’s final capabilities and security mechanisms.

Those final adjustments to the system will expire in 2023, he added. From there, the focus will be on launching commercial operations with its customers, which include Georgia Pacific and other unnamed companies that have invested in joint product testing and pilot operations since 2019. Outrider customers represent Outrider, Smith said. Over 20% of all yard trucks operating in North America.

Smith said the new money will be used to recruit in the US and internationally (beyond the 175-person workforce) and transition from testing and validation to large-scale business operations.

“It’s one thing to drive an autonomous vehicle, it’s another to create a real industrial system that can operate in an extreme environment over several years, 20 to 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” said Smith. System production and the introduction of this final capability will allow us to expand to thousands of systems running Outrider over the next few years.”

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