Self-driving truck company Kodiak Robotics has been awarded a $49.9 million U.S. Defense Department contract to automate U.S. Army ground vehicles. The contract, which runs for two years, will led by the Army’s Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) program.
Kodiak, which was the only autonomous vehicle company in a competition of 33 companies, will use its self-driving software to develop, test and deploy autonomous capabilities for the Army’s driverless vehicles in reconnaissance and surveillance. Some of the requirements include having the vehicles navigate in rugged terrain, diverse conditions and GPS-challenged environments, the company said.
The award, which started in October 2022 and awarded through DoD’s Defense Innovation Unit, calls for Kodiak to apply its autonomous software stack for Army vehicles in the first year. In the second year, 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,” the company said.
The military is looking at deploying autonomous vehicles in high-risk mission near or behind enemy lines. By using driverless vehicles in these dangerous tasks, a reduction in troop risk is anticipated. “I started Kodiak because I believe autonomous technology can save lives, and helping the U.S. Army develop driverless vehicles for the most challenging operating environments fits perfectly with that goal,” said Don Burnette, founder and CEO of Kodiak Robotics, in a statement.