Kodiak Robotics Wins Army Self-Driving Contract

GVAP vehicle
Defense Innovation Unit

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Kodiak Robotics Inc., a self-driving technology company active in trucking, announced in a blog post this month that the Army and the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) selected it for a 24-month, $49.9 million agreement to adapt its self-driving platform, Kodiak Driver, for the Army’s robotic combat vehicle (RCV) program.

“There has been a revolution in the techniques and capabilities of uncrewed ground vehicles occurring in the private sector over the past two decades,” Kevin O’Brien, technical director for DIU’s autonomy portfolio, said in a release. “We’re eager to bring these matured technologies back into the Department of Defense, where initial work was inspired by the DARPA Grand Challenges.”

Mountain View, Calif.-based Kodiak noted it was the only autonomous vehicle company initially selected for this award out of 33 submissions, and cited its proven leadership in autonomous systems development and commercialization, as well as its foundational focus on safety.

“Through this agreement, we will work with the RCV program office to develop the autonomous solution for future Army ground vehicles designed for reconnaissance, surveillance and other high-risk missions,” Kodiak founder and CEO Don Burnette wrote. “Additionally, we will develop remote driving capabilities that will increase the flexibility and resiliency of these vehicles, while further reducing risk for soldiers and saving the lives of U.S. servicemen and women.”

The latest award follows one in 2021 when the company received an Air Force small business innovation research contract to develop a software platform for simulated autonomous vehicles that could navigate the flight line.

A key part of the latest project, Burnette wrote, “will be to develop a continuous technical pipeline that will enable the rapid development and deployment of new autonomous vehicle technologies as they become commercially available.”

He wrote that the project will align closely with the company’s trucking road map. “Our military work will help us progress Kodiak’s trucking stack and core commercial offering, including partnering with the Army and DIU to ensure the Kodiak Driver meets the highest standards for safety and security.”

In September, the company announced its Kodiak Driver fourth-generation (Gen4) truck platform.

The Army contract will boost the privately held company’s financial position. Kodiak in 2021 reported it closed its $125 million Series B financing round. But the company has not gone public, a path common to many similar startups.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a research and development agency of the Department of Defense, through a series of driving challenges starting in 2004 supported the early development of robotic vehicles capable of traveling through severe topography.

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