Autonomous Semi-Truck from Kodiak Could Be Solution to Driver Shortage

Carlos Kirby
· 4 min read
In this wild, almost post-Covid world, we've grown quite accustomed to shortages. This also includes a recent shortage of
drivers that predates Covid’s arrival.
Fortunately for us in the United States, the truck driver shortage hasn't gotten as bad as it has in the UK. Across the pond, the truck driver shortage has in turn caused a fuel shortage. 
In response to the growing American truck driver shortage, many
trucking groups
have gone out of their way to attract new drivers. 
Many have pinned their hopes that self-driving trucks would arrive in time to prevent any disastrous shortages, but it is still to be determined if autonomous trucks will arrive in time, or at all. However, Kodiak Robotics may have the answer just in the nick of time. 
Will self-driving trucks arrive in time to prevent US-based driver shortages?

How Kodiak 4th generation works

Developing self-driving trucks is nothing new. After all, corporate giants Google and Tesla have poured millions of dollars into developing their own autonomous semis. What makes Kodiak different is their new 4th-generation self-driving truck. 
This new generation really isn't a truck itself, but rather allows existing semis to be converted into self-driving trucks. By installing Kodiak's proprietary hardware and software, any Class 8 truck can become self-driving regardless of the brand. 
Kodiak can also sell self-driving trucks to companies that are looking to expand their fleet. The installation kit involves mounting multiple radars, lidar, and other sensors across the truck. Additionally, a fair amount of wiring needs to be done connecting the sensors to an NVIDIA DRIVE platform and engine. 
This new fourth-generation technology is currently available to purchase and has already been installed on 14 trucks, per
PR Newswire
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Will Kodiak solve the truck driver shortage?

To put it briefly, probably not. Self-driving semis are not fully autonomous just yet. They still require a driver on board in case something goes wrong. Having a driver on board also offers peace of mind to other vehicles on the road. 
A good analogy is to think of it as autopilot found on airplanes. Even though autopilot does most of the mundane work, trained pilots are still needed in case of emergencies and for takeoffs and landings. 
In theory, Kodiak's technology may attract more drivers by making the job safer. But the main reason why people don't want to get into driving is the low pay and poor benefits, as reported by
Smart Trucking

When will we see self-driving trucks?

Chances are you've already seen a self-driving truck, you just haven't noticed it. Since self-driving trucks will still have drivers, they can only be detected if you look for radar or lidar devices. 
Will self-driving trucks ever fully replace human drivers? Predicting the future is an impossible task, but we think that's a long way away. We're talking not a reality until at least 2030 at the absolute soonest. Instead of thinking of these as autonomous vehicles, semi-autonomous is a much more accurate word. 
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