Self-driving truck startup Kodiak Robotics to expand its team and develop products using recent funding

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A self-driving truck startup called Kodiak Robotics has raised $40 million in Series A financing.

The company will use the funds to expand its team—it currently has about 10 employees—as well as for product development.

In an interview with TechCrunch, Don Burnette, co-founder and CEO of Kodiak Robotics, and Paz Eshel, the company’s other co-founder and COO, shared the basic vision for their company: “use self-driving technology to ease the current strain on the freight market.”

According to the American Trucking Association, trucks moved more than 70 percent of all U.S. freight and generated $719 billion in revenue last year, but “full-truckload, over-the-road nonlocal drivers”—a term used to describe drivers who haul goods over long distances—are in short supply.

This long-haul sector employs approximately half a million truck drivers, but was short 51,000 truck drivers last year, which was up from a shortage of 36,000 in 2016.

With this in mind, Burnette and Eshel believe that driverless trucks can help close that gap.

“We believe self-driving trucks will likely be the first autonomous vehicles to support a viable business model, and we are proud to have the support of such high-profile investors to help us execute on our plan,” Burnette says.

Kodiak Robotics plans to use a variety of technologies for its trucks, including light detection, LiDAR, and camera, radar and sonar technologies.

“Pretty much everything you can imagine self-driving cars using in a comprehensive sensor fusion type system,” Burnette says.

Engineers will focus on developing the full self-driving system stack from the company’s own hardware and software architectures, but Kodiak Robotics will not build any sensors; instead, the company will use sensors from third-party suppliers.