The need to bring distribution yards up to speed with warehouse and transport digitalization is driving the adoption of autonomous yard trucks and AI-enabled cameras, to help track, allocate, and optimize assets.

According to a study by global technology intelligence firm ABI Research, the installed base of articial intelligence (AI)-enabled cameras in the yard will reach 11.2 million globally by 2030, and the uptake of autonomous yard trucks will rise significantly at a global compaound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 52.7% from 2022 to 2030.

These findings come from ABI Research’s recently published Yard Digitalization Market Data report which is part of the company’s supply chain management and logistics research service.

Ryan Wiggin, ABI Research industry analyst, said: “Yards surrounding warehouses, distribution centers, and manufacturing facilities are becoming the new stomping ground for established supply chain solution providers as they diversify into yard management systems (YMS) and join a growing number of emerging companies focusing on automating yard trailer movements and live asset tracking.

"In a bid to digitalize and update yard operations, installments of yard systems, enabling tracking technologies, and autonomous tractors are expected to rise considerably in the short to medium term,”he added.

Blue Yonder, Körber, and FourKites are adding yard management systems to their software portfolios, joining more focused yard solution vendors such as Kaleris and C3 Solutions.

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The report predicts that, to enable tracking and visibility of assets and workers in the yard, handheld devices and AI-enabled yard cameras will see increasing deployments in yards globally, growing at a CAGR of 13.0% and 14.8%, respectively, from 2022 to 2030.

The company said established providers Advantech, Honeywell, and Zebra will lead the rise in handheld devices, while Blue Yonder, Peripass, and Robovision are pioneering AI-enabled yard camera systems.

Autonomous and teleoperated yard trucks remain nascent, but recent investment rounds, partnerships, and successful proof-of-concept (POC) projects indicate an interest and use case for the technology, the researchers said.

Outrider, Phantom Auto, EasyMile, and Fernride are some of the few companies doubling down on yard automation, with small-scale deployments paving the way for wider commercial uptake in the coming years.

Wiggins added: “Advancements in AI are breaking down many of the limitations faced by technologies in outdoor environments. Advanced computing power helps to process data from camera feeds, identify trailers and equipment, and guide autonomous vehicles safely.

"Where certain technologies couldn’t operate before, AI has helped unlock new use cases and will continue to drive solution adoption within yards."