Driverless Trucks Try Automating Weigh Station Checks

California alliance teams with technology company Kodiak to test an enhanced inspection program

Graham Hope

July 21, 2023

2 Min Read
Kodiak Robotics

How will it be possible for an autonomous truck to deal with a roadside weigh station inspection when there is no human on board to assist with the check?

With fully driverless freight transit very much the goal of the self-driving truck industry, that’s a potential problem it has been seeking to address for some time.

But now a product may be in the pipeline thanks to a pilot program that autonomous technology company Kodiak Robotics is participating in.

The firm, based in Mountain View, California, is taking part in a new Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) enhanced inspection program, which essentially allows autonomous trucks to clear the necessary checks before embarking on their journey.

The initiative has been designed to “streamline interactions between autonomous trucks and law enforcement” at fixed inspection sites and is now being trialed in Texas.

Generally roadside inspections can involve tasks such as switching lights on and off and pressing the brakes, which would be challenging if there was no human supervising an autonomous truck.

As part of the pilot, a CVSA inspector conducts an inspection of an autonomous truck at its point of origin, and assuming all is well, issues a pass, which is valid for 24 hours. Once on the road, the truck must communicate to law enforcement that it passed the inspection, that its automated driving systems are functioning and that it is operating as intended.

By doing this, it would not be subject to the routine inspections carried out at weigh stations and other inspection sites.

Also involved in the pilot are Drivewyze, a platform for connected truck services, and the Texas Department of Public Safety. After each enhanced inspection, Kodiak inputs the result into the Drivewyze system, which then informs officials at roadside sites.

Don Burnette, Kodiak’s CEO and founder, said: “Traditional roadside inspections rely on assistance from the driver, and a common question we get is how autonomous trucks will handle highway weigh station inspections. This program shows how law enforcement and autonomous vehicle developers can partner to ensure extremely high safety and maintenance standards for self-driving trucks.”

Brian Heath, CEO of Drivewyze, added: “To maximize future adoption, it is important that state agencies continue to leverage their existing roadside systems to meet the needs of the emerging AV market.” It is hoped the Texas program will serve as a model for other states as self-driving trucks are rolled out commercially across America.

Kodiak has made significant strides with the introduction of its autonomous technology, partnering on pilots with IKEA, US Xpress and 10 Roads Express on routes in southern states. It has also landed a $50 million deal to adapt its solutions for use by U.S. Army ground vehicles.

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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