Flump, flump, flump, flump. Whether you’re a professional truck driver or just a regular motorist, you’ve likely experienced that classic driver’s headache, the flat tire. When you get a flat, you know what to do: pull over into the breakdown lane, activate your hazard lights, and carefully step out of the vehicle to deal with the damage.
But what if you didn’t have a brain? Or more precisely, what if the vehicle with the flat didn’t even have a driver?
While that scenario might be the stuff of nightmares, one company says the fears are misplaced. Kodiak Robotics Inc., a self-driving trucking company, says its Kodiak Driver autonomous driving system “knows” exactly what to do in the case of a flat or blowout. In fact, the company claims its system can handle tire blowouts better than the average human driver, maintaining complete control of the truck—even in situations where a human might lose control—and bringing the vehicle safely to a stop.
To support its claim, Kodiak released a video of a test run in which a Class 8 truck rolls over a giant spike, popping one of its two front “steer” tires. Although the tire is destroyed, the Kodiak Driver stays in control and slows the truck to a safe stop, all without human intervention.
“People ask us all the time ‘What happens if you blow a tire,’ and we wanted to showcase how the Kodiak Driver can maintain control more precisely than a traditional truck, even with a completely destroyed tire,” Don Burnette, Kodiak’s founder and CEO, said in a 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. By demonstrating that the Kodiak Driver can maintain complete control under such duress, we’re showing the world just how safe this technology is designed to be.”