Image Credits: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch
The problems of autonomously driving would have been solved long before now. Don Burnette, co-founder and CEO of Kodiak Robotics, has argued that the startup has been able to expand its business because it has less money than larger players.
Over the past year, Kodiak has launched commercial pilots and partnerships with Ceva Logistics and US Xpress and has raised a $125 million Series B, bringing its total funding to $165 million.
One of the few companies on the market that does more with less is Kodiak. We were told last year that a $500 million operation was possible. Less than 25% of TuSimple's IPO was raised.
The company has secured a reputation for keeping a tight balance sheet and is focused on self-driving trucks. The other autonomy issues can be solved by another person.
The issues of building sensors and labeling data can be solved by another person. Building lidar in-house and spending time and resources on labeling data distracts from creating a viable go-to-market strategy.
“I’m not seeing as much negativity around the markets as I’m hearing publicly, and that gives me some optimism that this market is still exciting and healthy.” Don Burnette, co-founder and CEO, Kodiak Robotics
It has been a year since we had an interview with Burnette, so we talked about how the scrapping of HD maps has allowed Kodiak to expand into interstate trucking lanes faster than competitors, how the removal of sensorpods will help the company scale, and whether or not self-driving trucks will
An interview with a founder of a transportation company has been edited for length and clarity.
As the industry matures, trucking is becoming more competitive. What do you think about Kodiak?
The modularity of the system was an important part of the story. We showed last month how easy it is to replace a sensor in the field. odiak has sensorpods that include one lidar, two radar and three cameras.
When we talk to people in the trucking industry, the first question they usually ask is, "How do I maintain my fleet?"
We have focused on making sure that the existing routine maintenance infrastructure is not disrupted by the new platform. I think you're going to see a shift towards our designs and technologies in the next couple of years, because we think that's a unique offering that other people aren't paying attention to.
Is it possible to place the sensorpods in a freight truck to make them self-sufficient?
Yes, that is correct. We wanted to make sure that the design meshes with all of the different providers out there, so we worked on all of the big four platforms to make sure that it was easy to use.