Trucking automation is here (but not as sexy as you think)

Unfurl the banner, sound the bugle, pop the cork: Automation has arrived in commercial trucking! (Although like many hyped technologies, the reality is more nuanced — and less sexy — than the headlines suggest.)

Outrider, which is making a name for itself bringing autonomy to yard operations for logistics hubs, is rolling out automated tractor-trailer hitching capabilities. It’s not a self-driving big rig, but this is actually a big deal, and it’s yet another great case of how automation actually is taking over a sector, albeit in incremental ways. Automation creeps, it doesn’t conquer.

Trucking is a really interesting canary in the coal mine for automation. Trucks are the go-to mode of transport for much of the U.S. economy. In fact, over 10 billion tons of freight moves across the US each year. On its way to its destination, just about all of it makes a stop at distribution yards, where trailers are unhitched from trucks.