- Kodiak Robotics won a two-year, $49.9 million contract from the Department of Defense to help automate the U.S. Army’s ground vehicles, according to a Dec. 6 press release.
- The autonomous tech manufacturer was awarded the contract from the department’s Defense Innovation Unit on behalf of the Army’s Robotic Combat Vehicles program office. The project will create a prototype using Kodiak’s software, fusing data from multiple sensors to allow for remote operation of unmanned vehicles.
- Kodiak founder and CEO Don Burnette said in an interview the contract’s first year will be assessing what military needs the company’s existing technology can address. In the second year, Kodiak will transition the software to other vehicle platforms and deploy it for off-road environments.
The contract will help the military find ways to safely manage on-ground resources and reconnaissance efforts by leveraging autonomous technology.
“In a very fast-moving battlefield, where the risks are high and come from all directions, how can you collect critical information to inform a commander to make decisions for their operations without committing precious resources?” said David Michelson, DIU’s project manager and a former Army infantry officer. “How do we preserve that combat power but also still enable that commander to get that information?”
Michelson noted that Kodiak’s particular focus on safety was attractive to the Army in awarding the contract. Additionally, the startup benefits from strong venture capital backing and has already deployed and used its technology, such as the daily autonomous delivery of Ikea products in Texas.
“This is exciting because now we have a partner that's done [autonomous technology] in the real world, and we think that they can do that again, with the Department of Defense looking at the military-specific applications that we need,” he said.
The project gives Kodiak the opportunity to begin its operational expansion outside long-haul trucking, to show its technology’s range of uses, the tech producer said in the release. The company was awarded the contract out of 33 submissions.
This isn’t Kodiak’s first contract with the Defense Department. In April of last year, Kodiak was awarded a research contract to develop autonomous vehicles for Dover Air Force Base’s flight line in Delaware.