Kodiak Robotics truck in front of an IKEA store.
Source: Kodiak Robotics
Self-driving truck startup Kodiak Robotics said Tuesday that it won a two-year, $49.9 million contract from the U.S. Department of Defense to help develop automated combat vehicles for the U.S. Army.
The company said the vehicles will be tailored for reconnaissance, surveillance and other missions that would present a high risk to a human driver.
The contract was awarded by the DoD’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) and is part of the Army’s ongoing Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) program.
“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 U.S. Army will both help strengthen national security and hasten our path to commercial deployment,” Kodiak CEO Don Burnette said in a statement.
DIU said it received 33 responses to its initial solicitation in October, and selected Kodiak and another vendor, development software provider Applied Intuition, after an extensive review process. Kodiak has been testing its autonomous trucks in Texas since 2019, and counts logistics giants Werner Enterprises and U.S. Xpress and Swedish home-goods giant IKEA among its pilot customers.
“The commercial sector has invested heavily in this technology, and we are excited to see this in action by leveraging the self-driving technology that is working on American highways today,” said Lieutenant Colonel Chris Orlowski, a product manager with the RCV program.
The award marks the latest development in the DoD’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Grand Challenge self-driving competitions, which began in 2004.
“There has been a revolution in the techniques and capabilities of uncrewed ground vehicles occurring in the private sector over the past two decades,” said Kevin O’Brien, technical director for DIU’s Autonomy Portfolio.