Tire-making big Bridgestone has taken a minority stake in Kodiak Robotics, the Silicon Valley-based startup growing autonomous vehicles, as a part of a broader partnership to check and develop sensible tire expertise.
Whereas the phrases of the deal weren’t disclosed, Kodiak Robotics co-founder and CEO Don Burnette instructed TechCrunch that this can be a direct monetary funding. Bridgestone CTO Nizar Trigui has additionally joined the Kodiak board as an observer.
The deal entails greater than capital. The 2 corporations have additionally fashioned a strategic partnership targeted on advancing Bridgestone’s tire tech and fleet administration system. Kodiak will use Bridgestone’s sensor-laden tires and fleet administration system on its self-driving vehicles, that are used to hold freight between Dallas and Houston as a part of its testing program. The corporate just lately mentioned it’s increasing its freight carrying pilots to San Antonio. Kodiak additionally assessments its self-driving vehicles — all the time with a security operator behind the wheel — in and round Mountain View, California.
Semi-trucks journey 100,000 to 150,000 miles a 12 months, Burnette mentioned, including that tire integrity and tire monitoring are integral to the security of trucking, whether or not they’re pushed by a human or pc.
“Security of an autonomy system finally comes all the way down to our means to control the tires that contact the highway when you find yourself accelerating or braking or steering,” Burnette mentioned. “You want to have the ability to depend on your tires to truly carry out the way in which they’re anticipated to carry out in any other case your security envelope isn’t essentially assured.”
Kodiak will use these sensible tires to watch stress, temperature and even measure the hundreds on the wheels, which performs a job in automobile dynamics and maneuverability. Kodiak will share the information it collects with Bridgestone, which the corporate can use to enhance the chemistry of its tires.
Tire corporations like Bridgestone already gather fundamental data from telematics suppliers that helps decide the place vehicles are pushed, what kinds of roads they use in addition to tire stress and temperature. Predictive fashions are then developed primarily based on that knowledge. Autonomous automobile corporations carry an added worth to tire corporations, Burnette famous. Kodiak’s self-driving vehicles are loaded with sensors of their very own, which permits the corporate to gather huge quantities of driving knowledge that may assist Bridgestone perceive precisely how its tires are getting used.
“Autonomy suppliers like Kodiak have all the uncooked knowledge particularly on how the vehicles are being pushed,” he mentioned. “We all know what the forces are, we all know what the steering is, we all know what the braking pressures that have been being commanded in actual time. And so we will collect a wealth of information that has by no means been beforehand doable to gather for corporations like Bridgestone.”
This permits Bridgestone to construct predictive fashions that may extra precisely be capable to predict the eventual lifetime and likewise presumably give warnings to when tires could fail out of area. “And that’s finally what Kodiak is basically fascinated with,” Burnette added.
The information follows Kodiak’s announcement in Could that it was partnering with South Korean conglomerate SK to discover the opportunity of deploying its autonomous automobile expertise in Asia. The final word intention of the SK partnership is to promote and distribute Kodiak’s self-driving expertise within the area. Kodiak will study the way it can use SK’s merchandise, elements and expertise for its autonomous system, together with synthetic intelligence microprocessors and superior emergency braking programs. Each corporations have additionally agreed to work collectively to supply fleet administration providers for patrons in Asia.