The Ford F-150 is one of the most popular vehicles of any type in the world, and it has a heavy presence in fleets of all sorts, from police to parks and recreation departments. The pickup is also used extensively in federal government fleets, including the military, where an autonomous vehicle developer has come up with a gnarly F-150 for use way off the beaten path.
Kodiak Robotics has developed a self-driving F-150 for the Department of Defense. It’s designed to traverse areas where GPS signals are sparse, and the terrain is rough. Soldiers can also control the truck remotely using the “Kodiak Driver” system.
The government is leaning on private industry to boost its AV programs, as civilian companies are years ahead of the military on the subject. Kodiak CEO Don Burnette told Automotive News that AI efforts “are leading to the leaps and bounds in performance that you’re seeing in the commercial space, and a lot of the AI algorithms require a tremendous amount of data.”
He noted that government agencies have not had the same access to that data that many private entities have.
The DoD has engaged five companies, including Kodiak, to develop ground-based autonomous vehicles. Kodiak’s contract is worth up to $50 million, and the government will assess vehicles from each of the five companies to determine a “winner” by the end of 2024.
[Image: Kodiak Robotics]
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