Kodiak Robotics Demonstrates How Its Autonomous Trucks Respond to Blown-Out Tires

Kodiak Robotics' blown-out tire demo may help alleviate some safety concerns people have with autonomous freight trucks.

Kodiak Robotics

The Kodiak Driver can maintain complete control of the truck when it suffers a catastrophic tire blowout, claims the company.

Kodiak Robotics has demonstrated that its autonomous trucking technology can continue working even when one of the freight truck’s tires gets blown out.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company last week released a video that showed a Kodiak Driver autonomous truck rolling over a test rig that punctures the front driver-side tire of a Kodiak Class 8 tractor.

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, it added. 

Kodiak’s fallback technology integral to demo

This blown-out tire demonstration relied on Kodiak's fallback technology that guides a Kodiak self-driving truck 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 company said. The speed of detection and level of control is critical for ensuring the safety of all motorists.

“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 in a statement. “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,” he said.

The dangers of blown-out tires

The company stressed the major safety risks of tire blowouts. It noted that a front tire blowout instantly causes trucks to behave erratically and unpredictably, potentially resulting in a loss of control, jackknifing, or other extremely dangerous situations.

Kodiak’s self-driving trucks react instantly to the changes in the vehicle's dynamics, the company said. In the case of the blown tire, the truck compensates for the failed tire by applying an entirely different steering angle.

The company added that it has tested this capability many times to assure consistent reliability. In order to clearly demonstrate the Kodiak Driver's ability to maintain precise control in such a volatile situation, Kodiak executed an in-lane fallback at a proving grounds in Texas.

If a tire were to blow 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.

Recent partnership announcements

Kodiak Robotics Inc. was founded in 2018 and develops autonomous truck technology. It said its unique modular hardware approach integrates sensors into a streamlined sensor-pod structure that optimizes for perception, scalability, and maintainability.

The demonstration follows partnership announcements with IKEA, Werner, and Pilot Company.

The company delivers freight daily for its customers along four routes in Texas and Oklahoma, operating autonomously on the highway portions of the routes.


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Kodiak Robotics

The Kodiak Driver can maintain complete control of the truck when it suffers a catastrophic tire blowout, claims the company.


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