Kodiak Robotics introduced its sixth-generation truck that the company said will be deployed on routes in 2024.  -  Photo: Kodiak Robotics

Kodiak Robotics introduced its sixth-generation truck that the company said will be deployed on routes in 2024.

Photo: Kodiak Robotics

Kodiak Robotics has introduced its first driverless-ready semi-truck designed for scaled deployment. The Class 8 tractor is equipped with all the necessary redundant safety-critical hardware, including braking, steering, and sensors, as well as the software required for driverless operations at scale, according to the company.

The truck debuted at the 2024 CES technology trade show in Las Vegas at the booth of Kodiak's Lidar partner, Luminar.

Kodiak: Driverless Truck Operations in 2024

This new truck will be used for Kodiak's driverless operations, which it plans to initiate between Dallas and Houston this year.

"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," said Don Burnette, founder and CEO of Kodiak.

The company’s latest truck further enhances the overall reliability of the technology by building on Kodiak's five years of real-world testing, according to the company, which included 5,000 loads carried over more than 2.5 million miles. The truck includes redundancy across all safety-critical functions.

Kodiak Driver is a Vehicle-Agnostic Autonomous Truck Platform

Kodiak said its sixth-generation platform uses hardware that has proven safety performance in existing commercial applications.

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 said it plans to roll out its sixth-generation truck to multiple vehicle types.

The truck features twice the GPU processor cores, 1.6 times greater processing speed, 3 times more memory, and 2.75 times greater bandwidth to run software processes compared to Kodiak's first-generation truck. With this launch, Kodiak said its driverless truck design is now feature-complete across both hardware and software.

“This truck fundamentally demonstrates that we've done the work necessary to safely handle driverless operations,” said Burnette. “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."

The truck's SensorPods include two upgraded higher-resolution Lidar sensors.  -  Photo: Kodiak Robotics

The truck's SensorPods include two upgraded higher-resolution Lidar sensors.

Photo: Kodiak Robotics

Safety Critical Redundancy for Driverless Truck Operations

Braking. While traditional trucks feature redundant braking systems, Kodiak said it 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.

Kodiak Gen6 Autonomous Truck Upgrades, Additions, and New Features

The sixth-generation Kodiak truck includes an array of upgrades that the company said enhance its safety, functionality, and performance.

Kodiak's proprietary SensorPods, which house the sensors and are pre-calibrated, pre-built for fast and easy repairs, have been enhanced to include two upgraded higher-resolution Lidar sensors, which are now automotive-grade; and two additional side radar sensors to improve long-range object detection.

In total, the Kodiak driverless-ready truck features 12 cameras, four Lidar sensors, and six radar sensors. To process the increased sensor data, the Kodiak Driver relies on Nvidia GPUs for high-performance computing.

Also new to the SensorPods are top-mounted, extra-bright hazard lights that are designed to comply with the autonomous trucking industry's application for an exemption to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Regulation 392.22, which requires traditional truck drivers to place warning devices on a roadway after a breakdown.

Since driverless trucks can't place road flares or other devices along the roadway, these lights will be used to alert other drivers to the presence of a truck on the side of the road, pending Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration approval.

The latest truck is also equipped with microphones, which are designed to detect and identify the presence of emergency vehicles and other suspicious sounds that could represent a hazard.

Lastly, the new truck includes redundant LTE communications links, allowing it to establish highly reliable communications with Kodiak's redundant command centers in Lancaster, Texas, and Mountain View, California.

The sixth-generation truck features safety feature redundancy and upgrades.  -  Photo: Kodiak Robotics

The sixth-generation truck features safety feature redundancy and upgrades.

Photo: Kodiak Robotics

Future Enhancements for Kodiak's Gen6 Driverless Trucks

Kodiak said it will continue to make changes to its sixth-generation truck over the fleet's operational lifetime, incorporating improvements and additional features as it works with partners to develop and deploy new capabilities.

For example, later in 2024 Kodiak will integrate a next-generation Ambarella CV3-AD AI domain control system-on-chip (SoC) to continuously improve the truck's sensor and machine learning capabilities, while transitioning to a high-volume SoC solution that also provides high AI efficiency and performance.

The introduction of Kodiak's sixth-generation truck follows the recently announced opening of a truckport to launch and land autonomous trucks, in partnership with Pilot, as well as recent partnership announcements with Loadsmith, C.R. England and Tyson, IKEA, Werner, Forward and more.

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