Kodiak’s 5th Generation Truck: Sleeker and More Powerful

As they celebrate their fifth birthday, Kodiak is rolling out it’s fifth-generation (Gen5) kodiakDriver, another big step towards self-driving commercial deployment. Gen5 builds on everything that makes their AV truck platform most embraced by the trucking industry, while making their modular hardware package even sleeker, and unlocking even more power and capabilities.

With Gen5, the mirror-mounted SensorPods now contain all autonomy-critical sensors, eliminating the need for roof-mounted sensors, improving 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.

It has a 60% CPU performance increase and a 130% GPU performance increase, reducing the size of the Gen5 power system by 50% and the system’s cooling needs. Ultimately, this results in a system that requires less electricity, and operates more efficiently.

They’ve further integrated their 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. 

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.

Kodiak’s 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 the system has to react, it’s critical the kodiakDriver is prepared for any system degradation. To do so, they 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.

Source: Kodiak, April 6th 2023