Kodiak Robotics, a pioneer in self-driving technology development for trucking and defense applications, has announced a groundbreaking development in its autonomous systems. On December 4th, the company unveiled its inaugural autonomous test vehicle tailored for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), marking a significant leap forward in military technology.
The autonomous vehicle, a modified Ford F-150 equipped with Kodiak’s cutting-edge autonomous system, the Kodiak Driver, represents a critical advancement in defense capabilities. The Kodiak Driver is designed to navigate the complexities of military environments, operate in diverse conditions, and overcome challenges like degraded GPS, off-road terrains with rocks, dust, mud, and water. The system also empowers the Army with the capability to remotely operate vehicles when required, eliminating the need for servicemembers to undertake high-risk reconnaissance missions.
“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. We are proud to support the military, and look forward to the day that Kodiak Driver-powered vehicles can provide the U.S. military with more mission options and technical superiority, all while keeping our servicemen and women out of harm’s way.”
Kodiak demonstrated the portability of the Kodiak Driver by integrating it into the new vehicle in an impressive timeframe of less than six months. This rapid development is attributed to the modular and vehicle-agnostic nature of Kodiak’s autonomous system. The vehicle shares the same software as Kodiak’s autonomous long-haul trucks and features Kodiak DefensePods, adapted versions of the modular and swappable SensorPods designed for defense applications.
Moreover, Kodiak’s commitment to defense innovation is evident in its contract with the U.S. Department of Defense, announced in December 2022. The contract, valued at up to $50 million, is with the Defense Innovation Unit and supports the U.S. Army’s Product Manager Robotic Combat Vehicle program. This program utilizes the Software Acquisition Pathways strategy, allowing the DoD to acquire hardware and software solutions separately for optimal modernization.
Under this contract, Kodiak is set to deliver two off-road-capable autonomous vehicles based on the Ford F-150. Testing of these vehicles began at a U.S. military base in November 2023. Successful completion of testing will pave the way for Kodiak to integrate its autonomous system into a purpose-built ground reconnaissance vehicle for military use.
Before testing the F-150 vehicles, Kodiak utilized its semi-trucks to test the autonomous system in off-road environments, providing valuable insights that contribute to enhancing on-road long-haul trucking technology. The rigorous off-road testing has allowed Kodiak to strengthen its hardware platform and improve the Kodiak Driver’s handling of dust, rocks, and other obstacles, further solidifying its position as a solid player in autonomous technology.
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