Issue 55 Uncrewed Systems Technology Apr/May 2024 Sellafield’s UAV equipment l Applied EV Blanc Robot l Battery tech l Robotican’s Goshawk l UGVs l UAVHE RW1 rotary l Roboat UVD l Autopilots l Arkeocean UVD l UMEX 2024 l CycloTech UVD

62 Insight | UGVs conventional wi-fi systems to ensure persistent and secure connectivity between fleet managers and our vehicles,” Bertaia says. “We’ve also developed tracking devices for such users to track the locations of their existing, manual wheelchairs, as many will want to take the opportunity provided by our fleet management interface to keep track of all their other assisted mobility inventory.” Haulage sense In our 48th issue (February/March 2023), we dove into Kodiak Robotics’ fourth-generation self-driving truck and the suite of technologies empowering it towards long-distance logistics. Key to these were its SensorPods, wingmirror structures containing some of the sensors for real-time localisation, guidance and collision avoidance, and a bar-shaped CentrePod housing the rest of the sensors above the windshield. Today, the company has completed its sixth-generation truck, which has removed the CentrePod on the roof; all sensors are now in the SensorPods for a more easily maintained layout. “As ever, the SensorPods can be easily replaced by a technician in 10 minutes, and concentrating all the sensors in the wing-mirror SensorPods means there is now nothing on the roof to maintain, so maintenance doesn’t require a ladder, gantry or a crane. Roof-mounted subsystems are hard to maintain,” says Kodiak Robotics’ CTO, Andreas Wendel. “These trucks need to be maintained in many places along their routes, and if they’re not driving, they’re not making money, so getting them out of the workshop and back on the road is really important to our customers, which now include IKEA and Werner Enterprises.” Currently, each SensorPod has three radars, six cameras and two Lidars. They have been right-sized from 50 lb (22.68 kg) to 35 lb (15.87 kg), primarily thanks to using newer, smaller Lidars, such as Luminar’s Iris. Kodiak Robotics now views the SensorPod design as feature-complete, and it has also added a microphone for audio-detection of emergency vehicle sirens and other road-critical sounds. Most of the SensorPod improvements were completed for the fifth-generation Kodiak truck; the key focus on the sixth-generation truck was its compute and actuation systems, particularly with respect to redundancy. “Whenever you steer, you age your steering components and you risk something like a steering motor on your steering column breaking. It’s the same for your power systems, your braking systems and so on,” Wendel comments. “We don’t want any single points of failure, and that’s where redundancy comes in. We’re comfortable saying our sixth-generation truck is the first fully redundant autonomous truck in the industry. In general, drive-by-wire is not yet standard in trucking, but absolutely no-one has dual redundancy of every driving component in a driverless-ready system. So, everything from computers to control surfaces in braking, steering and power throughput is at least doubled up to get those systems to ISO 26262 standards of integrity.” Across the truck, one finds dualredundant steering motors, tripleredundant brakes, dual-redundant power connections and dual-redundant computers. Wendel notes that the sixth-generation truck can now react to a fault by not merely pulling over for a safe abort, but switching to a backup system to keep running. Lastly, Kodiak has added emergency flashing lights around the truck for select instances. In the event of an accident, regulations ordinarily require that a truck driver place down a warning triangle, but as autonomous vehicles are increasingly designed to operate without an onboard driver, some key members of the industry have jointly submitted an application to the US Department of Transportation for an exemption process, by which a warning flasher similar to those used by crewed tow trucks could be used instead. Movements in mining Over the last 20 years, research and investment into automation in the mining industry have predominantly been focused on haulage, drilling and fleet management technologies. With mounting interest in concepts for fully autonomous mines, there is a growing consensus that mining’s ancillary tasks should become autonomous next. April/May 2024 | Uncrewed Systems Technology Moving all sensors into the wing-mirror SensorPods will greatly ease maintenance of the trucks and reduce their downtime (Image courtesy of Kodiak Robotics)