Why I’m joining the Kodiak team.
As an engineer who has spent several years in the self-driving industry, I have been asking myself which company is best equipped to deploy this technology near-term, at scale, and most importantly in a safe and responsible manner.
I’m confident the answer is Kodiak Robotics, and I’m proud to announce that I’ve just joined as their Head of Hardware! What makes Kodiak unique is its vision of applying self-driving technology to long-haul trucking paired with an excellent team; this focus and experience are why I’m excited to join the team.
I could not have asked for a better fit than with Kodiak, especially since I am naturally impatient about technology actually launching in the real-world. I had been a long-term member of Google’s Street View team designing next generation camera systems and electronics, and back then I could not wait for as many people as possible to benefit from our work mapping the entire world. I then moved on to Lyft’s Level 5 Division where I was a founding engineer and the Director of Sense and Electronics. I could not wait to get Lyft’s vehicles to a state where they could get onto the road to collect all the data needed to develop self-driving transportation systems. I have always aimed for breakthrough technologies to not sit on the shelf collecting dust, but to be on the road collecting miles.
The only dust at Kodiak comes from having self-driving long-haul trucks actually on the road; we are moving extremely fast. Kodiak took delivery of its first truck in late 2018; completed its first safety validation and closed-course test drive just three weeks later; public road testing followed another three months later; and then our autonomous trucks started delivering freight with a safety driver between Dallas and Houston this summer.
Long-haul trucks deliver everything our country needs to function. They represent the lifeblood of the American economy. I’m thrilled to have a hand in revolutionizing this massive industry by improving efficiencies and also positively impacting people’s lives. By bringing autonomous vehicle technology to the industry at scale, we can reduce fatalities, increase the efficiency of trucks resulting in less gasoline consumption, and ease congestion by operating trucks at the most appropriate times, safely.
As a hardware engineer, Kodiak’s refusal to take shortcuts is particularly attractive. Long-haul trucking is an incredibly harsh environment, with trucks designed to last for hundreds of thousands of miles. To ensure all autonomy components can withstand these demanding conditions, Kodiak’s hardware team has already put a focus on designing for manufacturing and rigorously testing both sensors and actuators; our goal is to build a reliable and safe product rather than a prototype. I find that uncompromising attention to detail incredibly gratifying professionally.
In my time in the industry, I’ve learned that you need both vision and experience to be successful. I’m excited to work with both Kodiak’s co-founder and CEO, Don Burnette, as well as Kodiak’s VP of Engineering, Andreas Wendel, who have years of experience in the self-driving car industry at Google/Waymo, Otto, and Uber. Surrounding them is a passionate group of talented engineers, business professionals, and safety drivers, that share an ingrained vision and deep experience that is critical to bringing autonomous technology to long-haul trucking at scale.
I am equally excited about finding the next generation of talent to join our mission. So if you’re interested in joining a company that has already quadrupled the number of its employees in a year and is actually deploying self-driving technology for long-haul trucking right now with a safety-first approach, then come join our team!
Learn more about opportunities at Kodiak.
See you on the road,
Jamie Hoffacker, Head of Hardware, Kodiak Robotics