Kodiak's 5th generation truck (Gen5) has mirror-mounted SensorPods that eliminate the need for...

Kodiak's 5th generation truck (Gen5) has mirror-mounted SensorPods that eliminate the need for hard-to-maintain roof-mounted hardware.

Photo: Kodiak

Kodiak Robotics introduced its fifth-generation autonomous truck hardware platform with increased sensor redundancy and processing power. 

The latest iteration removes the roof-mounted “center pod” sensor suite, relocating the front-facing Luminar Iris Lidar and wide field-of-view camera to each of its mirror-mounted SensorPods. By integrating sensors into the SensorPods, Kodiak says Lidar coverage is doubled at long range. With sensors located in an easy-to-reach location on the mirrors, drivers and technicians can avoid having to access the roof to maintain sensors.

Kodiak’s SensorPods are also designed to place sensors at the same height as a driver, maximizing road safety and improving perception. The SensorPods offer a better dual vantage point, according to the company, as they provide redundancy and visibility on either side of the truck, as opposed to the single vantage point above the cab. In the event of sensor damage, dual-redundant front-facing sensors increases resiliency.

In addition, an on-the-fly replacement of SensorPods, which are compatible with any truck platform, can be performed in about 10 minutes, according to Kodiak. The damaged SensorPod can then be returned to Kodiak for evaluation and repair.

“By removing the sensors from the top of the truck and incorporating them at a human driver’s line of sight, we have designed a system for the real world," said Don Burnette, founder and CEO of Kodiak Robotics, in a statement. “Additionally, having sensors on top of the cab is actually very difficult to service while on the road and requires specialized equipment, which is nearly impossible to find roadside.” 

Like Kodiak's fourth-generation truck, Kodiak's fifth-generation truck includes Cummins X15 Series engines and Bridgestone’s smart-sensing tire technology.

A More Robust Sensor Array

The fifth-generation Kodiak truck improves upon the sensor array announced as part of its prior-generation platform. When removing the center pod, the company added a second forward-facing Lidar and additional camera to add redundancy in the left and right SensorPods. The new truck increases the total number of sensors on-board from 14 to 18, including one new Lidar and three new cameras — bringing the total camera count to 10. Two wide-angle cameras were added to the hood-mounted mirrors to cover blind spots. 

Kodiak’s long-range sensor suite includes the following, split evenly between the two side-mounted mirror SensorPods: 

  • Four ZF Full Range Radar for redundancy
  • Two Hesai 360-degree scanning Lidars for side- and rear-view detection
  • Two Luminar Iris Lidar sensors
  • Eight cameras, which include both wide and narrow field-of-views. 

The new truck includes the recently announced Ambarella CV2 perception system-on-chip (SoC) which handles all camera data processing. The Ambarella CV2 SoC improves image quality for longer range detections and unlocks improved dynamic range for nighttime driving.

Improved Hardware Stack for Better Performance

Kodiak’s hardware stack is designed for three activities:

  1. Sensing, through its SensorPods.
  2. Thinking, through its main computer.
  3. Acting, which is controlled through two onboard custom-designed safety computers, the Kodiak Actuation Control Engine, or ACE.

Kodiak also reduced the electrical power requirements for its fifth-generation truck, while improving the processing power of the system. In addition to 130% more GPU processing power, the new system provides 60% more central processing power, and additional system redundancy. The reduced power consumption allowed for a 50% reduction in the size of the fifth-generation power system, and also decreased cooling needs.

The company is also taking a modular approach to building its computing system with a consolidated its in-house compute system, networking, and power distribution into one physical unit, giving more options for integration. The computer hardware is manufactured by Crystal Group, a manufacturer of military and ruggedized computers, and is designed to handle the heavy and persistent vibrations onboard long-haul trucks.

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