Kodiak Robotics unveils new autonomous truck - Just Auto
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Kodiak Robotics unveils new autonomous truck

By Graeme Roberts 29 Sep 2021 (Last Updated September 29th, 2021 14:28)

Company to more than double self driving fleet.

Kodiak Robotics unveils new autonomous truck

Kodiak Robotics, a self driving trucking company, announced its fourth-generation autonomous truck.

This new truck will feature Luminar’s Iris LiDAR, ZF Full Range Radar, Hesai 360-degree scanning LiDARs for side- and rear-view detection, Cummins X15TM Series engines, Bridgestone Americas smart sensing tyre technology, and the Nvidia Drive platform.

The trucks go on  the road in the fourth quarter as Kodiak begins to take delivery of 15 new tractors.

The new generation self-driving trucks will improve the robustness of the autonomous system. It was designed with greater fleet uptime, manufacturing, and serviceability in mind.

“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.”

Claimed industry-leading perception system

The perception system, Kodiak Vision, takes the unique approach of considering every sensor – including LiDAR, camera and radar – primary. It fuses together the information from the sensors and considers the relative strengths and weaknesses of each type. This incorporates extra redundancies and cross validates data, adding another layer of safety to the self driving system.

The new truck further improves performance and reliability by incorporating the ZF Full Range Radar and Luminar’s long-range Iris LiDAR. These sensor integrations, combined with previously announced integration with Hesai 360-degree scanning LiDARs, for side- and rear-view detection, provide the necessary automotive grade reliability needed for long haul trucks. All three sensors are purpose-built to meet the needs of autonomous trucks, which need to “see” long-range in a wide variety of weather conditions to safely operate at highway speeds.

The ZF Full Range Radar provides revolutionary four-dimensional capabilities, measuring the distance, height, lateral angle, and velocity of an object out to 300+ metres. 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. 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.

Luminar’s new Iris LiDAR’s wide horizontal and vertical field of view enables trucks to recognise objects both near and far, adding further redundancy for long-range detections up to 600 metres. The high resolution and range allows the system to reliably “see” objects such as pedestrians and motorcycles. The LiDAR’s slim design has a profile of just 10cm so it seamlessly integrates into the discreet centre roof pod in the front of the truck.

Kodiak Robotics’ patent-pending mirror pods which will start with one Hesai LiDAR, two long-range 4D radars, and three cameras don’t require specialised sensor calibration for easy upfit and repair. 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.

Kodiak has placed an order for an additional 15 Paccar trucks that will be delivered over the next year. The trucks will more than double the company’s fleet size and help Kodiak expand its growing business delivering freight for commercial customers in Texas and beyond. Over the next couple years, the company plans to expand throughout the southern half of the US into other freight-rich corridors.

The fourth-generation truck will feature Nvidia Drive Orin as the supercomputing platform, once available. With more than 250 TOPS (trillion operations per second) of compute performance, this is architected for safety and addresses systematic safety standards such as ISO 26262 ASIL-D. In the interim, Kodiak will use the current generation Pegasus to process the data from the cameras, allowing the autonomous system to perceive the surrounding environment.