September 28, 2021

KodiakNewTruck400x275Kodiak Robotics, which is developing self-driving truck technology, has announced its fourth-generation autonomous truck. The new truck will feature Luminar’s Iris lidar, ZF’s Full Range Radar, Hesai’s 360-degree scanning lidars for side- and rear-view detection, a Cummins X15 Series engine, Bridgestone Americas’ smart-sensing tire technology, and the NVIDIA DRIVE platform. The company said the fourth-generation trucks will debut on-road starting in Q4 2021, as it begins to take delivery of 15 new tractors.

The truck features a modular and discreet sensor suite in just three locations: a slim profile “center pod” on the front roofline of the truck, and pods integrated into both of the side mirrors. The well-integrated and low-profile sensor placement vastly simplifies sensor installation and maintenance, as well as increases safety, Kodiak said. The new generation will improve the robustness of the autonomous system, as it was designed with greater fleet uptime, manufacturing and serviceability in mind, the company added.

“Complex and bulky systems that require an engineer to hand-build and hand-tune are expensive, unreliable and difficult to debug,” said Don Burnette, co-founder and CEO of Kodiak Robotics. “We believe that reliability and scalability flow from simplicity, and the best hardware modifications should be barely visible. Our fourth-generation platform is designed for simple, scaled production, which means easy calibration, troubleshooting, and maintenance for our partners.”

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The Kodiak Vision sensor fuses information from lidars, cameras and radar to cross-validate data and consider strengths and weaknesses of each sensor type.

The company’s vision system, Kodiak Vision, considers every sensor – lidar, camera and radar – as primary. The system fuses together the information from the sensors and considers the relative strengths and weaknesses of each type. This method incorporates extra redundancies and cross-validates data, adding another layer of safety to the self-driving system, Kodiak said. Performance and reliability are improved with the ZF Full Range Radar, Luminar’s Iris lidar, and Kodiak’s previously announced integration with Hesai’s 360-degree scanning lidar. 

The ZF Full Range Radar provides four-dimensional (4D) capabilities, measuring the distance, height, lateral angle, and velocity of an object out to more than 300 meters, Kodiak said. This contrasts with traditional radar, which cannot measure the vertical position of an object, effectively viewing the world from the top and down like a map, the company added. “4D radar is critical for autonomous trucks because it allows the system to distinguish overhead objects – such as road signs and bridges – from road hazards like stopped vehicles under a bridge or an overhead sign,” Kodiak said.

The new Luminar automotive-grade Iris lidar’s wide horizontal and vertical field of view enables Kodiak trucks to recognize objects both near and far, adding further redundancy for long-range detections up to 600 meters. The high resolution and range allows the system to reliably “see” objects, such as pedestrians and motorcycles. In addition, the lidar’s slim design profile of 10 cm allows it to integrate into Kodiak Robotics’ discreet center roof pod in the front of the truck.

The truck’s patent-pending mirror pods – which will start with one Hesai lidar, two long-range 4D radars and three cameras – do not require specialized sensor calibration, Kodiak said. Rather than replacing a sensor in need of maintenance, a mechanic can simply replace the mirror pod in a matter of minutes. This single point of integration will allow maintenance and serviceability at scale, the company said.

The order for the additional 15 PACCAR trucks will more than double the company’s fleet size, and help Kodiak expand its growing business of delivering freight for commercial customers in Texas and beyond, the company said. It plans to expand throughout the southern half of the U.S. into other freight-rich corridors over the next few years.

Earlier this year, the company announced a contract with the U.S. Air Force to develop autonomous airbase vehicles. The company also announced investments from BMW iVentures and Bridgestone Americas, as well as its collaboration with Bridgestone and its smart tire sensing technologies.

For more details on the new truck, visit the Kodiak Robotics website here.