MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Tire blowouts are sudden and dangerous events that can happen when driving.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimates that tire problems were responsible for approximately 15% of truck-related crashes.
Autonomous commercial vehicle company Kodiak has become the first self-driving trucking company to demonstrate that its vehicles can maintain complete control of the truck after suffering a catastrophic tire blowout, according to a news release.
Its autonomous driver — kodiakDriver — can stay in control of a truck and bring it to a safe and complete stop even when rolling over a giant spike and instantaneously popping a steer tire, according to the company.
A demonstration showed kodiakDriver was able to maintain such precise control that the vehicle never left the lane, stopping in the planned path. See video of the maneuver below this article.
Kodiak developed and executed tests to ensure that the kodiakDriver could manage the challenge of a blowout.
Kodiak started by testing the steering controller’s performance at different tire pressures to understand the system’s control performance at low tire pressures.
“With this data, Kodiak optimized the kodiakDriver for the changes that occur after a tire blowout,” company officials said.
Once incorporated, the findings from the low-tire pressure tests were entered into the kodiakDriver’s control algorithms. It was then tested with a completely deflated tire flopping off the rim. This test confirmed that the controller can still steer the truck with a completely deflated tire, laying the groundwork for a spontaneous blowout.
After deliberate testing at different tire pressures, the vehicle raced down a test track hit a puncture rig, which is a spike mounted to a metal plate
Finally, the kodiakDriver on a test track with a trailer, rolled over the puncture rig, and popped the steer tire.
If the kodiakDriver suffered a blowout while operating on highways its fallback plan would bring the truck to a stop on the shoulder.
“Preparing an autonomous truck for real-world deployment means being ready to manage the rigors of real-world trucking,” Kodiak said in a news release. “We can’t control the hazards trucks will face on the open road, but we can control how the trucks behave when a critical situation occurs. Demonstrating the safety of an autonomous vehicle is about building confidence in how the system behaves in the most complex scenarios and ensuring that the system can always maintain safety and control over a vehicle, even in scenarios where a human may lose control. By demonstrating that the kodiakDriver can consistently maintain complete control even after a major tire blowout, we’re showing the world just how safe a driver the kodiakDriver is.”
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.