Kodiak Robotics, a self-driving trucking company, today announced it has been awarded a $49.9 million, 24-month United States 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 started in October 2022 and was awarded by DoD’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) on behalf of the Army’s RCV program office, Kodiak will leverage its commercial self-driving software to develop, test and deploy autonomous capabilities for driverless vehicles that further strengthen national security.
Kodiak will develop autonomous vehicle technology for the Army to navigate complex terrain, diverse operational conditions and GPS-challenged environments, while also providing the Army the ability to remotely operate vehicles when necessary.
Wartime is extraordinarily complex with high-risk challenges that often result in troops operating near or behind enemy lines. Deploying autonomous vehicles to perform such critical and dangerous tasks has the potential to significantly reduce the risk to troops, while giving them greater access to the information they need in the field.
Additionally, the remote driving capabilities Kodiak will develop for the Army will increase the flexibility of these autonomous vehicles, while further reducing risk for 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.
Don Burnette, founder and CEO, Kodiak Robotics, says: “I started Kodiak because I believe autonomous technology can save lives, and helping the US Army develop driverless vehicles for the most challenging operating environments fits perfectly with that goal.
“We are proud to have the opportunity to leverage our cutting-edge self-driving technology for defense applications, and believe our work with DIU and the US Army will both help strengthen national security and hasten our path to commercial deployment.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to the servicemen and women who step into harm’s way to keep us safe; keeping them safe in return is an honor we take seriously.”
Kodiak Robotics was the only autonomous vehicle company initially selected for this award out of 33 submissions, thanks to its proven leadership in autonomous systems development and commercialization, as well as its intense focus on safety.
In the first year of this effort, Kodiak will build upon its core competency by applying its robust autonomous software stack for Army specific use cases, including future Army vehicles.
In year two, the company will implement its autonomous driving system on off-road vehicles capable of traversing complex terrain and operating remotely in unpredictable and austere conditions.
DIU focuses exclusively on adopting and scaling technologies developed by commercial partners to help strengthen US national security by solving critical field challenges faced by the U.S. military. DIU works to identify innovations in six key technology areas where the commercial sector is operating at the leading edge: artificial intelligence, autonomy, cyber, energy, human systems, and space.
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 to propel its innovations forward.