Failsafe Tech Guides Self-Driving Trucks Out Of Traffic

by Mat Dirjish

Self-driving trucking company Kodiak Robotics claims to be the first company to demonstrate what it calls a fallback, a failsafe system that autonomously pulls a self-driving truck over to the side of the road in the event of a truck or system failure. The ability to perform a reliable fallback, a.k.a., having the vehicle assume a minimal risk condition, is critical to safely deploying driverless trucks on public roads.

Kodiak Driver, the company’s self-driving system, evaluates the performance of more than 1,000 safety-critical processes and components in both the self-driving stack and the underlying truck platform ten times per second. The components include the engine, oil levels, and tire pressure, plus autonomous vehicle system components like sensors and software processes. Should any component fall outside the acceptable performance parameters, Kodiak Driver automatically executes a fallback plan.

According to the company, critical failures like blown tires and engine problems not common, but can be very dangerous if not handled appropriately. Therefore, it’s essential to have a fallback technology that responds accordingly. Similar to how a human brainstem is able to react quickly without waiting for input from the brain, Kodiak’s ACE safety computer executes a fallback without input from the Kodiak Driver’s main computer.

The company’s fourth generation of trucks includes two ACE units for redundancy. If the ACE units lose connection with the Kodiak Driver’s main computer, the system automatically executes a fallback. For more details, visit the Kodiak Driver page.

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