Kodiak Robotics shows what happens when self-driving big rigs blow tires

Fallback systems should rarely be used but always be available, says Kodiak CEO Don Burnette.

“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,” he said.

Understanding how trucks behave in blown-tire scenarios is difficult to simulate because of variability in conditions and payload, Burnette said. That makes data collected from closed-course testing valuable.

For example, having information from the real-world 35-mph test helped Kodiak more accurately simulate what would happen in a 65-mph test. The truck still maintains its lane of travel.

Still, that data can be arduous to collect. It took Kodiak’s engineering team more than a year to prepare for the testing to ensure its system was ready. Even for closed-course tests, the preparation underscored a basic tenet.

“We might not always do the right thing in terms of getting things from Point A to Point B, but it’s about showing we’re always going to do the safe thing,” Coleman said.

“No matter what happens, we’re going to do something safe and protect motorists around the trucks. That’s the bar for launch.”

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