Kodiak Robotics Trains Autonomous Trucks for Emergencies
There are dozens upon dozens of different obstacles that autonomous trucking needs to overcome before it can become a reality and replace humans behind the wheel. One that is seldom talked about is what happens during a vehicle malfunction. A robotics start-up called Kodiak Robotics is hoping to program an autonomous truck that can handle such situations at the level of, or even exceed, human capability.
Humans have numerous advantages over autonomous vehicles, the primary one being adaptability. The one upper hand autonomous vehicles have over humans, however, may be the ability to perform under pressure.
Visualize a tire blowout for your truck on the highway while it is still in motion. What do you do? Do you come to a stop immediately? Attempt to get out of the road? What about all of the other vehicles surrounding you? There is a lot to understand in a short window of time.
For a tire blowout, Kodiak Robotics is working on a four step plan:
- Identify tire failure.
- Initiate fallback (slow down).
- Trigger hazard lights.
- Stop with minimal deviation from the center.
Kodiak Robotics plans for the software in their self driving cars to be able to compensate perfectly for the changes in force resulting from a vehicle malfunction. A tire blowout’s resulting change in direction can be stopped by turning at an appropriate angle. For a human, this would require significant amounts of guesswork. Computers would be able to get the hard numbers to find the right angle to turn to stay straight.
You can watch Kodiak’s video on handling tire blowouts below.
Kodiak Robotics is on a mission to create the safest driver ever. They certainly have their work cut out for them: a tire blowout is but one of the many things that could go wrong on the highway. Additionally, unless the company implements some sort of tire replacement mechanism, somebody is going to have to go out there to replace the tire.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and when it comes to self-driving trucks, we still have millions of steps to take, even if that number has now decreased by one.