Kodiak showcasing sixth generation autonomous trucks, ready to scale

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Kodiak Robotics says its sixth generation of highly autonomous trucks are ready to scale, combining redundant systems and improved sensor packages alike.

The company — which is working with partners including CR England, Tyson, Ikea, Werner and others — has been developing the technology for five years. Real-world tests that have already carried 5,000 loads more than a collective 4 million km.

Its latest trucks will be completing runs between Dallas and Houston this year.

Kodiak Robotics
(Photo: Kodiak Robotics)

Redundant capabilities are applied across safety-critical functions including braking, steering, power, and the company’s custom Actuation Control Engine (ACE) system that is responsible for guiding the truck out of a traffic flow if a critical system fails.

The company says its Kodiak Driver “vehicle-agnostic” driving system is also designed to be safer than a human driver and will be rolled out on multiple vehicle types.

Enhanced processors, redundant systems

Over the six generations, the truck’s GPU processor cores have doubled, and processing speed has increased 1.6 times. There’s triple the memory, and 2.75 times more bandwidth.

The pneumatic braking system includes three individual brake actuators, while the steering system includes a pair of redundant ZF actuators. Power for things like sensors and the electrical system, meanwhile, comes via two isolated subsystems.

New to the sixth generation are SensorPods that house pre-calibrated sensors and include upgraded automotive-grade Lidar, as well as two added side radar sensors to better detect objects over long distances.

There are 12 cameras, four Lidar sensors and six radar sensors overall.

Warnings lights and microphones

SensorPods also feature extra-bright hazard lights to comply with the autonomous trucking industry’s application for an exemption from Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Regulation 392.22, which currently requires truck drivers to place warning devices on the road after a breakdown. (Autonomous trucks can’t set up road flares or warning triangles, after all.)

Another new feature includes microphones to detect emergency vehicles and other sounds that could represent hazards.

Later this year, Kodiak plans to integrate Ambarella CV3-AD AI domain control system-on chip to improve truck sensor and machine learning capabilities.

“We’re the first and only company to have developed a feature complete driverless semi-truck with the level of automotive-grade safety redundancy necessary to deploy on public roads,” founder Don Burnette said in a press release.

“We’ve successfully demonstrated that our self-driving trucks can withstand the harsh environment of long-haul trucking from both a platform integrity and a software perspective. This truck fundamentally demonstrates that we’ve done the work necessary to safely handle driverless operations. While we continue to work with leading truck manufacturers, the technology we developed is deployment-ready, uncoupled from OEM timelines and truck manufacturer-agnostic, which allows us to move fast while keeping safety at the forefront.”

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John G. Smith is Newcom Media's vice-president - editorial, and the editorial director of its trucking publications -- including Today's Trucking, trucknews.com, and Transport Routier. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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