PentagonPentagon awards 50m contract for autonomous ground reconnaissance vehicles



The US Army granted a $50M contract to the self-driving trucking company, Kodiak Robotics, in hopes of developing an autonomous combat vehicle, capable of driving off-road.


The contract duration is 24 months. It will be divided into two key stages, at the end of which, Kodiak should present the DoD with a Robotic Combat Vehicle capable of performing a wide range of surveillance and reconnaissance operations over rugged terrain and uncharted territory. Kodiak's efforts will be supported by the Army's Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) program.

The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) relies on Kodiak’s innovation and long experience in Autonomous trucks to help develop the ideal driverless vehicle that can perform crucial reconnaissance operations in areas featuring hostile terrain and inaccurate GPS coverage. The vehicle should also allow for remote control when necessary.

Such driverless vehicles will give the troops on the ground a tremendous advantage in high-risk areas. Kodiak’s technology will significantly reduce exposure to danger for the troops, while at the same time helping them gather crucial information on their surroundings. The project shouldn’t stop here, though, the army will take Kodiak’s vehicle as a gateway and role model for future developments in the field.

Competition for the $50M contract was fierce, Kodiak was the only developer chosen from a list of 33 submissions. As reasons for their choice, the army cited the company’s innovations in the field of driverless vehicles, its extensive experience in commercial applications, and especially its obsession with safety.

In the first phase of the project, Kodiak will adapt its autonomous driving software to military use, and then in the final phase, it will apply the resulting software on off-road vehicles, adapted to harsh environmental conditions and inhospitable terrain.

The DIU branch of the department of defense has a long history of adopting and further developing civilian technology for military use. This approach helps reduce development time and cost while combining the best of the two sectors. DIU is currently focused on six primary technologies that have the potential of helping the U.S. military develop its fighting capabilities. Civilian developments in artificial intelligence, autonomy, cyber, energy, human systems, and space are always under the watchful eyes of the DIU, ready to snatch whatever technology it sees fit for an army role.

You can see how the US army and Kodiak insist on having a vehicle that’s adapted for its environment. Which should make you think, is your car adapted to its environment? 

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