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‘Safer than a human driver’– Kodiak rolls out world’s first driverless-ready semi truck for scaled deployment

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On Tuesday, Kodiak Robotics Inc. debuted an autonomous semi truck that they say is an industry-first driverless-ready vehicle designed for widespread commercial deployment.

Kodiak debuted the sixth-generation self-driving truck on January 9 ahead of its appearance at the 2024 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week. The company says that this is the version of the truck that will be used for the company’s driverless operations between Dallas and Houston this year.

“With the pieces in place, this is the year we go driverless,” Kodiak said Tuesday.

Kodiak says that the truck debuted on Tuesday is the product of “five years of real-world testing that includes 5,000 loads carried over more than 2.5 million miles.”

“The Kodiak Driver, Kodiak’s vehicle-agnostic self-driving system, including its redundant, driverless-ready hardware platform, is designed to be safer than a human driver. Kodiak plans to roll out its sixth-generation truck to multiple vehicle types. The sixth-generation truck features twice the GPU processor cores, 1.6x greater processing speed, 3x more memory, and 2.75x greater bandwidth to run software processes compared to Kodiak’s first-generation truck. With this launch, Kodiak’s driverless truck design is now feature-complete across both hardware and software,” the company said in a news release.

“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,” said Don Burnette, Founder and CEO of Kodiak. “Over the course of 2.5 million miles, 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.”

Kodiak laid out details on the safety-critical redundancy features built into the sixth-generation semi:

Braking. While traditional trucks feature redundant braking systems, Kodiak is taking it one step further in the interest of safety. Kodiak’s pneumatic braking system consists of three individual brake actuators simultaneously controlled by Kodiak’s proprietary software. Should any of the braking actuators fail, the backup systems can prevent loss of control and bring the truck to a safe stop.

Steering. The dual-redundant steering system includes two redundant ZF actuators controlled by Kodiak’s safety system. Based on Kodiak’s safety analysis, should the primary steering actuator experience any type of failure, the steering system seamlessly switches to the secondary actuator to maintain full control without compromising the vehicle dynamics and move the vehicle into a safe state.

ACE System. Like Kodiak’s fourth-generation and fifth-generation trucks, the sixth-generation truck includes the Kodiak ACE, a proprietary, custom-designed, high-integrity safety computer. The ACE is responsible for ensuring that the Kodiak Driver can guide the truck to a safe “fallback” out of the flow of traffic in the unlikely event of a critical system failure.

Power. The sixth-generation truck includes a redundant power system, which powers the computers, sensors, actuators and all other electrical systems. The power system is split into two fully isolated subsystems that ensure all safety systems can execute a safe fallback should either fail.

Other features include proprietary SensorPods containing LiDAR sensors, microphones to detect hazards or emergency vehicles, and redundant LTE communications links.

Kodiak Robotics was founded in 2018 and partners with companies including Pilot, LoadsmithC.R. England, TysonIKEAWerner, and Forward.

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