Kodiak robotsToday, the self-driving trucking company announced that it has been awarded a $49.9 million, 24-month US Department of Defense (DoD) agreement to help automate future US Army ground vehicles led by the Army’s Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) program.
This effort will be in support of vehicles designed for reconnaissance, surveillance, and other high-risk missions.
Through this award, which began in October 2022 and was awarded by the Department of Defense’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) on behalf of the Army’s RCV Program Office, Kodiak will leverage its commercial autonomous driving program to develop, test, and deploy autonomous capabilities for autonomous vehicles that further enhance national security.
Kodiak will develop autonomous vehicle technology for the Army to navigate complex terrain, diverse operational conditions and GPS-challenging environments, while also providing the Army with the ability to operate vehicles remotely when necessary.
Wartime is extraordinarily complex with high-stakes challenges that often result in forces operating close to or behind enemy lines. Deploying autonomous vehicles to perform such critical and dangerous missions has the potential to significantly reduce risk to troops, while giving them greater access to the information they need in the field.
In addition, the remote driving capabilities that Kodiak will develop for the military will increase the flexibility of these autonomous vehicles, while further reducing risks to soldiers.
The project will also provide a technical pipeline that will enable the rapid development and deployment of new autonomous vehicle technologies as they become commercially available.
“I started Kodiak because I believe autonomous technology can save lives, and helping the U.S. military develop driverless vehicles for the most challenging operating environments fits perfectly with that goal,” says Don Burnett, founder and CEO of Kodiak Robotics.
“We are proud to have the opportunity to leverage our cutting-edge self-driving technology for defense applications, and we believe our work with DIU and the US Army will help advance national security and accelerate our path to commercial deployment.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to the soldiers and women who step into harm’s way to keep us safe; keeping them safe in return is an honor we take very seriously.”
Kodiak Robotics was the only autonomous vehicle company initially selected to receive this award out of 33 entries, thanks to its proven leadership in the development and commercialization of autonomous systems, as well as its intense focus on safety.
In the first year of this effort, Kodiak will build on its core competency by implementing a robust, standalone software package for Army-specific use cases, including future Army vehicles.
In the second year, the company will apply the autonomous driving system to off-road vehicles capable of traversing complex terrain and operating remotely in harsh and unpredictable conditions.
DIU is focused exclusively on adopting and expanding technologies developed by commercial partners to help advance the national security of the United States by solving critical field challenges faced by the US military. DIU identifies innovations in six key technology areas where the commercial sector is at the forefront: artificial intelligence, autonomy, cyber, energy, human systems, and aerospace.
While Kodiak Robotics will continue to focus on its core business of building autonomous trucks for use in commercial applications, this project serves as an important extension that helps drive its innovations forward.
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