Kodiak Robotics is now making 200-plus-mile “disengagement-free” autonomous freight runs with a tractor-trailer equipped with its autonomous driving technology, according to a blog posted on Medium.com by Andreas Wendel, vice president of engineering.
“Disengagement free” means the truck stayed in full autonomous driving mode for the entire duration of the trip, without the need for a human driver to disengage the system and take over manually to operate the vehicle.
Wendel posted videos highlighting Kodiak’s latest autonomous technology developments, including one showing a recent, 205-mile run on a stretch of Texas highway, as well as a compilation video showing eight more “disengage-free” runs in just the first week following the company’s first disengage-free delivery.
Wendel said this video roundup includes one entire disengagement-free day, with two back-to-back round trips between Dallas and Houston, during the day and at night. Watch all 800+ miles in another 10x time-lapse.
“We know it gets boring,” Wendel noted in the blog, before asking, “When has a company released this much autonomous driving footage?" to back up its claims?
Wendel said the videos serve as proof as to how far the Kodiak Driver autonomous system has come over the past year, and demonstrates that it stands with the best-performing technology stacks in the autonomous trucking industry. Unlike other autonomous technology companies which, Wendel claims, have demonstrated driverless trucks on roadways carefully selected to be safe and unobstructed as possible, Kodiak has developed its Driver autonomous system for “deployment, not demos.
“We’ve focused on building the technologies we need to handle every obstacle, from construction to cut-ins and everything in between,” Wendel wrote. “We’ve written about some of these technologies in the past, including our purpose-built for trucks technology stack; our modern, simulation-driven development approach; our designed for construction zones planner, and our principles-based perception system, Kodiak Vision.”
Wendel goes on to say that Kodiak’s disengagement-free delivery reflects a different approach. “Instead of rolling out a demo version of the Kodiak Driver early in our history, we navigated a major commercial freight lane, through a complex mix of urban and rural highways, open road, traffic, and construction zones,” he noted. “We didn’t use RTK positioning, and used our low-definition mapping system, designed for over-the-air updates in case of lane closures or construction. In other words, we can run, bike, and swim, with poise.”
The test drives netted the company another prestigious honor, as well. According to a story in the Dallas Morning News, Kodiak Robotics is the first company in the self-driving trucking industry to be recognized as a CES Innovation Award Honoree, according to co-founder and CEO Don Burnette.
According to the CES website, its Innovation Award is an an annual competition honoring outstanding design and engineering in consumer technology products. A full list of this year's honorees can be found here.
In summary, Wendel called the slate of drives “an incredible moment for Kodiak,” noting that the company is “beyond proud” of what it has been able to accomplish in under three years.