Kodiak’s 5th Generation Truck: Sleeker and More Powerful
Smarter. Faster. More Modular. Uncompromisingly safe. As we celebrate our fifth birthday, Kodiak is rolling out our fifth-generation (Gen5) kodiakDriver, another big step towards self-driving commercial deployment. Gen5 builds on everything that makes our AV truck platform most embraced by the trucking industry, while making our modular hardware package even sleeker, and unlocking even more power and capabilities.
With Gen5, our mirror-mounted SensorPods now contain all autonomy-critical sensors, eliminating the need for roof-mounted sensors. Eliminating roof-mounted sensors fundamentally improves the maintainability and uptime of the kodiakDriver without sacrificing field-of-view or perception capabilities. Gen5 also introduces additional redundancy, aerospace-grade hardware, and enhanced compute performance to increase reliability and continue to deliver on our fundamental commitment to safety.
Gen5 is SMARTER and FASTER
To optimize our autonomous truck platform, we needed to make our hardware solution more streamlined while also making it smarter, an evolution similar to moving from a desktop computer to a laptop. To do this, we added sensors and processing power. The total number of sensors on-board increased from 14 to 18, including one new lidar and three new cameras further bolstering the redundancy of the system. Two wide-angle cameras were added to each of the hood-mounted mirrors, to provide additional blind spot coverage.
Gen5 can do more with less. It has a 60% CPU performance increase and a 130% GPU performance increase, but we also reduced the size of the Gen5 power system by 50% and reduced our system’s cooling needs. Ultimately, this results in a system that requires less electricity, and operates more efficiently.
Gen5 is MORE MODULAR
We’ve further integrated our sensor suite, bringing all sensors into our SensorPods. In previous generations, these sensors were housed on the roof of our trucks, sometimes referred to as a center pod or unibrow. Bringing these sensors to the SensorPods, which replace the truck’s stock mirrors, simplifies the build process and allows for much easier maintenance should the need arise. Our approach is helping fleets increase truck uptime and utilization which ultimately leads to increased revenue. And since each SensorPod now has its own front-facing lidar, this new design offers increased perception redundancy.
Sensors integrated into the roof are harder to reach and represent another area where failures could occur, but where service in the field or preventive maintenance is very difficult. Now all safety-critical autonomy sensors can be serviced roadside by a technician, without any specialized training or equipment and without a need for a gantry to reach above the cab. An on-the-fly replacement of a SensorPod can be performed in as little as ten minutes, avoiding the need for a sensor technician out in the field. The damaged SensorPod can then be returned to Kodiak for evaluation and, if necessary, repair without taking down the entire truck.
Gen5 is still the SAFEST
Having the safest autonomy system in the industry is imperative to Kodiak. Gen5 has new long-range lidars that allow the kodiakDriver to see 2x farther. It also includes the recently announced Ambarella CV2 perception system-on-chip (SoC) which handles all camera data processing. The Ambarella CV2 SoC improves long range image quality and unlocks improved dynamic range for nighttime driving. Enhanced sightlines give the kodiakDriver more time to make decisions and the SensorPods offer a better dual vantage point, as they provide redundancy and visibility on either side of the truck.
Beyond increasing the time our system has to react, it’s critical the kodiakDriver is prepared for any system degradation. To do so, we added additional redundancy to autonomy-critical sensors and a second redundant actuation control engine (ACE) which is purpose-built and designed in-house to ASIL-D certification. The ACE is proprietary to Kodiak, and is the interface that connects the autonomy system to the truck. Gen5’s redundant ACE is critical for driverless deployment because it enables fully-redundant truck actuation. If one of the ACEs, or any safety-critical system fails, the kodiakDriver will be able to safely execute a fallback or minimal risk condition (i.e. pulling over to the side of the road) by utilizing these redundant components.
Preparing for driverless deployment is also about ensuring that the Kodiak truck can withstand everything that happens on-highway. With aerospace- and military-grade technology, Gen5 is more robust and can handle anything the road throws at it, ensuring the truck remains the safest and most reliable platform on the highway. The main connector for data and power in Kodiak’s SensorPods and compute system is designed for use in aviation, aerospace, and military applications, ensuring high reliability. In addition, Gen5 has a hardened military-spec Crystal compute. As a result, our autonomy system can withstand the harsh environments of over-the-road trucking. The increased robustness of the hardware system is another critical step toward delivering our driverless commercial solution.
Kodiak’s Gen5 platform operates on highways today
Over the past year and a half, our team has been hard at work fine-tuning our hardware to release the most commercializable platform in the industry, Gen5. We’ve also grown our footprint dramatically, building trucking’s largest autonomous network while delivering 50 loads per week from our Dallas hub to Houston, Austin, Oklahoma City, and Atlanta. We succeeded in maintaining the elegant sleekness of Gen4, while adding critical enhancements as we prepare for driverless commercial deployment. With a platform that is still the safest in the industry, smarter, more modular, and able to integrate with any Class 8 truck, we are delivering an autonomy solution that our fleet partners love and that our team is immensely proud of. Be on the lookout for our beautiful red Gen5 trucks on highways from California to Florida today.