This test vehicle is equipped with the Kodiak Driver suite of autonomous technologies.
This system is designed to operate in off-road environments and to be remote-controlled in certain situations.
This technology can be fitted to trucks ranging from pickups all the way to class 8 semi-trucks.
Kodiak Robotics, a company specializing in autonomous driving systems, has developed a test vehicle based on the Ford F-150 in order to demonstrate the capabilities of its technology to the US Department of Defence (DoD).
Following the awarding of a contract with options up to $50 million by the American military last December, the company got to work on adapting its existing Kodiak Driver suite of autonomous driving technologies to a Ford F-150, of which two units will be submitted for testing by the DoD.
The aim of these tests is to show that a normal pickup truck fitted with this autonomous driving system will be capable of dealing with all sorts of driving conditions that might be encountered during military service, such as off-road driving, light rock crawling, and heavy dust. The system is also capable of working with a degraded GPS connection, which is not usually the case for autonomous technologies.
According to Kodiak Robotics, its system can easily be adapted to trucks of all sizes, ranging from conventional pickups all the way to class 8 long haul semi-tractors.
This means that the U.S. military could easily adapt the Kodiak Driver system to most of the vehicles in its fleet.
The advantages of doing so include giving the American defence a technological advantage over other military complexes, providing more mission options, and reducing the risks to soldiers by placing them further away from dangerous situations in war zones.
In addition, Kodiak says that vehicles equipped with its technologies can be controlled remotely, which means that they don’t risk getting stuck somewhere if their software isn’t able to cope with an obstacle.
Speaking of software, the company says that both software and hardware will be purchasable separately to provide buyers, such as the military, with more options when it comes time to modernize their fleet.
Since the numerous sensors needed by an autonomous vehicle are quite fragile and subject to damage in military use, Kodiak Robotics has grouped them into DefensePods, a modular swappable design that can be replaced in the field in under 10 minutes, even without specialized training.
While the DoD evaluates the two autonomous F-150 pickups, Kodiak will continue to further the development of its system by using semi-trucks.
Source: Automotive News