Kodiak Robotics equipped a Ford F-150 with Kodiak Driver to provide an autonomous prototype for the U.S. Army.  -  Photo: Kodiak Robotics

Kodiak Robotics equipped a Ford F-150 with Kodiak Driver to provide an autonomous prototype for the U.S. Army.

Photo: Kodiak Robotics

Kodiak Robotics unveiled its first autonomous test vehicle designed specifically for the U.S. Department of Defense. It is a Ford F-150 upfitted with Kodiak’s autonomous system, the Kodiak Driver, and contains both the autonomy hardware and software required to operate a military ground vehicle.

The Kodiak Driver-equipped vehicle is designed to handle complex military environments, diverse operational conditions, and areas with degraded GPS, as well as off-road variables like rocks, dust, mud, and water, the company said. The Kodiak Driver also gives the Army the ability to remotely operate vehicles when necessary.

“Kodiak’s new autonomous vehicle shows the maturity and portability of our autonomous system, which we call the Kodiak Driver,” said Don Burnette, founder and CEO, Kodiak. “We have built a comprehensive autonomous system that can be integrated into any vehicle, from a Class 8 truck, to a pickup, to a next-generation defense vehicle.

"Integrating Kodiak’s technology into an off-road capable vehicle shows the potential for commercial and dual-use technology to revolutionize national security, just as the Department of Defense is looking to ramp up its focus on autonomous technology.”

Rapid Development

Kodiak demonstrated the portability of the Kodiak Driver by integrating it into a new vehicle in less than six months. Kodiak said this rapid development was possible due to the versatility of its modular and vehicle-agnostic autonomous system.

The vehicle runs the same software as Kodiak’s autonomous long-haul trucks, and features Kodiak DefensePods, an adapted version of Kodiak’s modular, swappable SensorPods, designed for defense applications. A technician can swap out a DefensePod in the field in 10 minutes or less, with no specialized training required.

DOD Contract

In December 2022, Kodiak announced a contract award with options up to $50 Million with the U.S. Department of Defense, specifically the Defense Innovation Unit in support of the U.S. Army, to develop demonstrator prototype autonomous ground vehicles.

As part of this contract, Kodiak designed its vehicle in line with the Army’s Product Manager Robotic Combat Vehicle program’s unique Software Acquisition Pathways strategy. The Software Acquisition Pathways strategy allows the DoD to acquire hardware and software solutions separately, to ensure that DoD gets the best possible combination of hardware and software for persistent modernization.

Kodiak said the autonomous vehicle is designed to handle complex military environments.  -  Photo: Kodiak Robotics

Kodiak said the autonomous vehicle is designed to handle complex military environments.

Photo: Kodiak Robotics

Off-Road Vehicles

As part of this program, Kodiak will build and deliver two off-road-capable vehicles based on the Ford F-150. Kodiak began testing the vehicles at a U.S. military base in November 2023. Once the testing is successfully completed, Kodiak plans to put its autonomous system into a purpose-built ground reconnaissance vehicle for military use.

Prior to testing the F-150 vehicles, Kodiak used its semi-trucks to test its autonomous system in off-road environments.

Testing the Kodiak Driver in off-road environments also helps Kodiak improve its on-road long-haul trucking technology. For example, testing on off-road terrain has helped Kodiak further harden its hardware platform while improving the Kodiak Driver's handling of dust, rocks, and other small obstacles.

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