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Self-Driving Truck Startup Kodiak Robotics Launches Autonomous Freight Delivery Route in Oklahoma with CEVA Logistics Using Class-8 Trucks

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【Summary】CEVA Logistics, a global third-party logistics and freight management company, announced today it has teamed up with self-driving truck startup Kodiak Robotics to deliver freight autonomously between Dallas Fort-Worth (DFW) and Austin, Texas; and DFW and Oklahoma City. Kodiak Robotics is one of several high-profile startups developing technology for Class-8 trucks to operate autonomously on highways.

Eric Walz    Mar 09, 2022 8:40 AM PT
Self-Driving Truck Startup Kodiak Robotics Launches Autonomous Freight Delivery Route in Oklahoma with CEVA Logistics Using Class-8 Trucks

CEVA Logistics, a global third-party logistics and freight management company, announced today it has teamed up with self-driving truck startup Kodiak Robotics to deliver freight autonomously between Dallas Fort-Worth (DFW) and Austin, Texas; and DFW and Oklahoma City. 

Kodiak and CEVA will become the first-ever companies to deliver freight using autonomous trucks in the state of Oklahoma. The long-term goal for the two companies is to integrate Kodiak's autonomous semi trucks into CEVA's North American fleet.

CEVA delivered its first load with Kodiak in Nov 2021, hauling freight weekly on the 200-mile stretch of highway between DFW and Austin.

"CEVA is at the forefront of global logistics innovation and has recognized early on that the trucking industry will see the first widespread adoption of self-driving technology," said Don Burnette, CEO and co-founder of Kodiak Robotics. "Kodiak and CEVA are focused on serving Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, and Oklahoma City, because they cover some of the richest freight corridors in the U.S. As Americans grapple with pandemic-related supply-chain issues and the long-term truck driver shortage, CEVA is leading the industry in adopting new technology that will benefit its customers."

Kodiak and CEVA expanded their partnership last month with a new route between DFW and Oklahoma City on the Interstate 35 corridor, a busy freight corridor between the two cities. This route connects CEVA's facility in Dallas to a delivery point in Oklahoma City. 

On both test routes, a Kodiak autonomous semi pulls a CEVA trailer filled with goods. A trained safety driver sits behind the wheel to monitor the trip and is ready to intervene if necessary. 

"CEVA is committed to working alongside leading automation and robotics suppliers – like Kodiak with its proven autonomy technologies – to unlock value for our customers' supply chain operations," says Shawn Stewart, President & Managing Director, North America, CEVA Logistics.

Kodiak Robotics was founded in 2018 and aims to make the freight industry more efficient and much safer with its advanced autonomous truck technology. The company, which is based in Silicon Valley, is one of several high-profile startups developing technology for trucks to operate autonomously on highways. Others include TuSimple, Aurora, Embark and Waymo.

Kodiak is led by a team of autonomous driving engineers from Google's original self-driving team, Uber's former ATG unit and ride-hailing company Lyft Inc. 

Kodiak's CEO and co-founder Don Brunette also co-founded autonomous trucking company Otto in Jan 2016, which was acquired by Uber in Aug 2016 for $680 million. Uber's acquisition of Otto was a way for the ride-hailing company to jumpstart its own work on autonomous driving technology via its Uber Freight logistics division.

Kodiak developed an entire autonomous driving hardware and software stack for Class-8 trucks its calls the "Kodiak Driver" for fully-automated highway driving. Each layer of the stack is responsible for a different component of the self-driving task.

Kodiak outfits each truck with lidar, radars and cameras which provide 360-degree perception coverage around the truck without any blind spots. It is the same type of sensor suite used by many developers of self-driving passenger vehicles.

Kodiak's unique modular hardware approach integrates the sensors into a streamlined sensor-pod structure that can be easily added to each truck for scalability. 

The Kodiak Driver incorporates lidar sensors from Luminar, full-range radars, and 360-degree scanning lidar from Hesai. Kodiak says the cameras on the trucks capture and process hundreds of megabytes of perception data each second. These sensors allow the truck to "see" long-range and all around the vehicle in a wide variety of weather conditions. This enables safe operation at highway speeds. 

The advanced Kodiak Driver even has the ability to merge onto highways and pass slower traffic.

In addition, the Kodiak Driver uses a unique lightweight mapping solution that's more manageable, according to the company. The maps contain just enough information about the highway for autonomous driving.

These lightweight maps are much easier to build and maintain, according to Kodiak. They are also small enough that map updates can be pushed to the entire fleet of trucks over-the-air. The mapping technology allows Kodiak to update route changes due to road construction without having to stop and reroute.

In June 2021, BMW iVentures, which is the venture capital arm of the automaker that invests in promising startups, announced an investment in Kodiak Robotics.

Kodiak said last last year that the funds from the BMW i Ventures investment would help it expand its team and fleet, as well as continue to develop its self-driving technology for long-haul freight delivery.

Also last June, Kodiak announced that tire maker Bridgestone acquired a stake in the company. As part of the investment, Kodiak will test Bridgestone's smart tire technology and collect data from the tires, including load, pressure and temperature.

Over the course of a week in Jan 2021, Kodiak said successfully completed a series of back-to-back round trips between DFW and Houston traveling a distance of over 800 miles, all without a single disengagement or human intervention of Kodiak's self-driving system.

CEVA has more than 2,449 drivers in its North American fleet, so there is plenty of opportunity for Kodiak to scale its technology with the logistics company in the future.

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