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Autonomous Military Vehicle Prototype Revealed

The Ford F-150 will be equipped with Kodiak Robotics’ Driver autonomous technology

Graham Hope

December 6, 2023

3 Min Read
Kodiak Robotics autonomous military Ford F-150 pickup truck.
Kodiak Robotics

Self-driving tech firm Kodiak Robotics has revealed its first autonomous test vehicle designed for the American military.

The AV is a Ford F-150 pickup truck that has been fitted with the firm’s Kodiak Driver autonomous tech, including hardware and software required to operate a military ground vehicle.

The unveiling comes almost a year after the California-based company secured a deal with the United States Department of Defense (DOD) worth $49.9 million to develop software for vehicles to be used by the US Army.

Its portable Kodiak Driver tech was integrated into the vehicle in under six months – a result, the company claims, of its modularity and vehicle-agnostic nature. 

The software is the same as is being run in the company’s autonomous long-haul trucks – which are operating in the southern states, notably Texas and Oklahoma – while the Ford itself features a new, adaptable version of Kodiak’s SensorPods, designed specifically for a defense vehicle. 

In a military environment, ease of use is obviously key, and Kodiak says the new DefensePod can be swapped out in the field in under 10 minutes, with no specialist training required.

The AV has been created to handle the sort of complex military environments the US Army often finds itself in, including areas where GPS is not working as reliably as usual, and rugged terrain that could incorporate rocks, dust, mud and water.

Related:Kodiak Nets $50M Deal to Adapt Self-Driving Tech for U.S. Army

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Although it operates autonomously, it can also be controlled remotely by military personnel.

Don Burnette, founder and CEO of Kodiak, hailed the development of the vehicle. He said: “We have built a comprehensive autonomous system that can be integrated into any vehicle, from a Class 8 truck to a pick-up, to a next-generation defense vehicle. Integrating Kodiak’s technology into an off-road capable vehicle shows the potential for commercial and dual-use technology to revolutionize national security, just as the Department of Defense is looking to ramp up its focus on autonomous technology. 

“We are proud to support the military, and look forward to the day that Kodiak Driver-powered vehicles can provide the US military with more mission options and technical superiority, all while keeping our servicemen and women out of harm’s way.”

As part of Kodiak’s deal with the military, the DOD is allowed to acquire hardware and software solutions separately, ensuring it gets the best combination possible. This approach means Kodiak will deliver two off-road vehicles based on the Ford F-150.

Testing of both has already got underway and once successfully completed, Kodiak’s autonomous tech will be integrated into a purpose-built ground reconnaissance vehicle for military use. Prior to testing in the Fords, the tech was assessed off-road in Kodiak’s semi-trucks.

Related:Self-Driving Trucking Lane Opens Between Houston, Oklahoma City

About the Author(s)

Graham Hope

Graham Hope has worked in automotive journalism in the U.K. for 26 years, including spells as editor of leading consumer news website and weekly Auto Express and respected buying guide CarBuyer.

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