November 14, 2022
Kodiak Robotics, which develops self-driving trucks for long-haul transportation, announced a successful demonstration that its autonomous technology, Kodiak Driver, can maintain complete control of the truck when it suffers a catastrophic tire blowout.
In a video (see below), the Kodiak self-driving truck rolled over a test rig that punctured the front driver-side tire of a Kodiak Class 8 tractor while the autonomous technology was engaged. Even after the tire was destroyed, the Kodiak Driver stayed in control and brought the truck to a safe and complete stop while maintaining its lane, the company said.
Tire blowouts are one of the biggest safety risks that can occur on the road, and front tire blowouts instantly cause trucks to behave erratically and unpredictably, with effects such as a loss of control or jackknifing. Kodiak said one of the safety benefits of its self-driving trucks is the ability to instantly react to the change in vehicle dynamics. For blown tires, the truck compensates for the failed tire by applying an entirely different steering angle. Kodiak said this exercise has been repeated multiple times, and the truck has been able to maintain its lane position.
“People ask us all the time, ‘What happens if you blow a tire?’ and we wanted to showcase how the Kodiak Driver can maintain control more precisely than a traditional truck, even with a completely destroyed tire,” said Don Burnette, founder and CEO of Kodiak Robotics. “We can’t control the hazards trucks will face on the open road, but we can control how the trucks behave when a critical situation occurs.” By demonstrating that the Kodiak Driver can maintain complete control under such duress, we’re showing the world just how safe this technology is designed to be.”
The blown tire demonstration is a part of Kodiak’s fallback technology, which guides the self-driving trucks to a safe stop in the event of a critical system failure. Upon experiencing the blowout, the autonomous system can immediately detect the tire fault, identify and adapt to the new vehicle dynamics, initiate the fallback protocol, trigger the hazard lights to turn on, and bring the truck to a stop within the lane. The speed of detection and level of control is critical for ensuring the safety of all motorists, Kodiak said.
As part of the demonstration, Kodiak said it chose to execute an in-lane fallback at a proving grounds in Texas. In a real-world setting, the truck would automatically execute its fallback plan, typically pulling it to a safe stop on the side of the road.
For more details on the Kodiak technology, visit its website here.