Trucking is The Right Problem To Solve

Don Burnette, Co-Founder & CEO of Kodiak Robotics joined Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss why trucking is the right problem to solve.

The conversation begins with Don discussing the early days of the Google Self-Driving Project.

The early days were really an exciting time for those of us who were aware of the self-driving industry, which was very few folks at the time.

– Don Burnette

It was during this time that Don began to understand the business use case challenges that would soon come to face the self-driving car industry. During these early days, the team on the Google Self-Driving Car Project also thought about trucking, but it was dismissed.

It was dismissed fairly early on, not because of technical reasons, just because at the time we all envisioned this as a very sexy technology. The leadership at Google was really focused on personal mobility. They wanted people to be able to touch and interact with the technology in a very direct way. So robo-taxis was the obvious direction for us to try and head.

– Don Burnette

Looking at the trucking industry and what is happening today with the driver shortage, the growth of e-commerce, and the shortages in the global supply chain, it becomes very obvious that trucking is the right problem to solve.

You have this gap that can actually can be solved, I think fairly uniquely with autonomy.

– Don Burnette

In the autonomous vehicle industry, we are beginning to see “The Great Pivot To Trucking” as the economics of autonomous trucking are far greater than those of the current robo-taxi models.

It is the combination of the technical challenge combined with the commercial viability that I think is pushing other programs toward trucking.

– Don Burnette

It’s not only the economics of trucking that is appealing, it’s the fact the industry as a whole is welcoming autonomous trucking. The technology is not disrupting the market, it is helping to shore up industry and the United States economy.

You are seeing that market really embrace it in a way that is unprecedented up until today.

– Don Burnette

Wall Street is beginning to pick up on the financial upside of autonomous trucking as several companies have gone public this year.

Wall Street along with most of the AV industry has finally realized that the strong business case for autonomous trucks has been defined.

– Don Burnette

Recently several analysts went on a tour to meet with autonomous trucking companies and came away impressed with the current state of technology. As Wall Street takes notice and Kodiak’s competitors have gone public, Grayson asks Don why Kodiak has not gone public. Don shares his honest insight into why Kodiak has opted to stay private.

Shifting the conversation to Kodiak’s Generation 4 Autonomous Truck, Grayson asks Don about the company’s mirror pods innovation. Mirror pods were designed to be repaired or replaced in the field by non-skilled technicians with just four bolts.

As Kodiak prepares to build out its business, Don shares Kodiak’s business model and the role that Kodiak Express and the Kodiak Driver will play in scaling the business.

Once the safety case is proven out, we are also going to offer technology as a subscription. This is where customers can run the Kodiak Driver technology on the trucks that they own specifically.

– Don Burnette

Wrapping up the conversation, Grayson asks Don if he views Kodiak as more of a trucking company or a technology company.

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Recorded on Tuesday, October 5, 2021.