Although joining the industry only a few years ago, Kodiak Robotics has already achieved important goals on its way to becoming one of the leading autonomous technology developers. Earlier this year, the company announced a contract with the U.S. Air Force, for producing autonomous vehicles to be used at the Dover AFB flightline. In addition to this, BMW i Ventures and Bridgestone Americas became investors for the company’s self-driving solution.
The company wanted to make this new generation truck perfect for simple, scaled production. The autonomous system is modular and “discreet”, meaning that it’s well integrated. This makes sensor installation and maintenance easier and more effective, which, in turn, increases fleet uptime and overall safety.
The perception system, Kodiak Vision, gathers information from Lidar, camera and sensor, and is capable of evaluating the pluses and minuses of each one, cross-referencing data for even more accurate perception. All the sensors are purpose-built for trucks. For example, the ZF Full Range Radar features innovative 4D capabilities which allow it to measure the vertical position of objects – something that wasn’t possible with traditional radars. This way, the system can differentiate between overhead objects, like bridges, and road hazards, like stopped vehicles.
Additionally, the new automotive-grade Iris Lidar developed by Luminar, increases long-range detection up to 600 meters (0.37 miles), which makes it easier to detect pedestrians and motorcycles.
This modular sensor suite is incorporated into a “center pod” on the front roofline, and pods that are integrated into the side mirrors. Unlike bulkier systems, these innovative mirror pods don’t require specialized sensor calibration, which simplifies maintenance.
This 4th-generation truck will be powered by Cummins X15 Series engines that can safely communicate with the autonomous system through an advanced interface. It will also be equipped with the NVIDIA DRIVE Orin platform, when it becomes available.
These new autonomous trucks are scheduled to hit the road in the last quarter of 2021. Kodiak has ordered 15 more PACCAR trucks, which will be fitted with the new autonomous driving system. The plan is to keep growing its fleet and expand beyond Texas.