Kodiak Robotics said its easily replaceable SensorPod hardware “clears a critical hurdle for the commercialization of self-driving trucks.”
As part of a technical partnership with Southern Tire Mart/Southern Tire Mart at Pilot, Kodiak demonstrated that its pre-calibrated, pre-built SensorPods, which replace the truck's stock side-view mirrors, can be removed and replaced by a mechanic without specialized training.
According to the Kodiak announcement, servicing and maintaining most autonomous truck sensor systems requires significant time and specialized training, which complicates repairs, since long-haul trucks can travel thousands of miles per trip and may need service in remote locations.
Kodiak's patent-pending SensorPod includes one Hesai Lidar, two ZF Full-Range 4D radars, and three cameras. Technicians can swap out a SensorPod by removing and replacing the access cover and three bolts, and re-connecting three cables. One cable carries power and data, while the other two provide water and compressed air for en-route sensor self-cleaning.
Southern Tire Mart has confirmed that the complexity of replacing the SensorPods is on par with that of replacing a tire, which is far less complicated than most autonomous system repairs, according to Kodiak.
“In spite of the new range of technologies incorporated into autonomous trucks, their commercialization depends on third parties’ ability to perform maintenance on them,” said John Boynton, president, Southern Tire Mart at Pilot. “Kodiak’s thoughtful approach to hardware, which takes into account the critical issue of maintenance, is exactly the kind of engineering that will carry the industry forward.”
Kodiak said it will continue to work with Southern Tire Mart/Southern Tire Mart at Pilot to build expertise around autonomous truck maintenance. Southern Tire Mart/Southern Tire Mart at Pilot aims to develop an understanding of the maintenance needs of autonomous trucks, and to evaluate potential new business models and revenue streams to solve the needs of the self-driving trucking industry.