- Kodiak Robotics makes self-driving trucks, and the latest invention is a Class 8 autonomous electric truck.
- The upfitted Peterbilt Model 579EV electric truck comes with Kodiak Driver, the company’s proprietary self-driving technology.
- Kodiak Robotics’ autonomous trucks are already used for deliveries with IKEA and Tyson Foods.
Back in May, self-driving truck company Kodiak Robotics introduced an exciting new entry in the electric mobility sphere at the 2023 Advanced Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo. There, industry insiders got to see Kodiak’s industry-first autonomous Class 8 truck that is, of course, fully electric and comes equipped with the latest SAE Level 4 automated-driving system, dubbed the Kodiak Driver.
Kodiak Driver: A Potential Game-Changer
In a vehicle walkaround at the Expo, Michael Wiesinger, VP of commercialization for Kodiak Robotics, proudly presented the Kodiak Driver – the heart and brains of the revolutionary truck. Upfitted on a Peterbilt Model 579EV electric truck, the Kodiak Driver features the latest SAE Level 4 automated-driving system. The 579EV is Kodiak’s second vehicle platform upfitted with the fifth-generation sensor stack, which is already integrated on Kenworth T680 diesel-powered trucks in their fleet.
The key highlight of the Kodiak Driver is its adaptability. According to Wiesinger, the system is vehicle- and powertrain-agnostic, which means it can be integrated into various sustainable vehicle platforms, including hydrogen fuel-cell trucks, as they enter the market.
Enhanced Sensors Throughout
One standout feature of the latest-generation Kodiak Driver is the elimination of the roof-mounted “center pod” sensor suite. In its place, Kodiak opted for mirror-mounted SensorPods on each side of the truck, giving it a sleeker and more aerodynamic look. This change not only enhances perception capability but also makes maintenance easier for fleet operators.
The sensors are now placed at the driver’s line of sight, which helps with effectiveness. In addition, relocating the sensors to the sides of the truck provides redundancy and a wider field of view for long-range lidar coverage. The move also simplifies the build process, making the integration of the Kodiak Driver more cost-effective for truck manufacturers.
The Kodiak Driver platform also boasts a robust sensor array, increasing the total number of onboard sensors to 18, including new lidar and camera additions. These sensors include four ZF Full Range Radars, two Hesai 360-degree scanning lidars, two Luminar Iris lidar sensors, and eight cameras with wide and narrow field-of-views.
The Ambarella CV2 perception system-on-chip further enhances image quality for longer-range detections and improves dynamic range for nighttime driving.
Delivering Freight Autonomously
Kodiak’s autonomous-equipped trucks are already hard at work delivering freight for renowned customers like IKEA and Tyson Foods. Operating autonomously on highway routes, these trucks have accumulated over 115,000 miles of safe operation for IKEA, setting new standards for efficiency and reliability in freight transportation.
The future of Kodiak Robotics lies not only in deploying its autonomous trucks but also in integrating its system onto other trucks. Wiesinger emphasized the potential for expanding beyond long-haul trucking, expressing aspirations for global market presence.
Defense and Beyond
Kodiak Robotics is also making waves in defense as well, with a $49.9 million agreement from the U.S. Department of Defense. Under this agreement, the company will work on automating future U.S. Army ground vehicles, including reconnaissance, surveillance, and high-risk missions. The award positions Kodiak as a key player in the development of autonomous off-road vehicles, capable of operating remotely in complex and unpredictable conditions.
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