Kodiak Self-Driving Truck - The Road to Autonomy

Autonomous Trucking Logistics

Jordan Coleman, General Counsel and Vice President of Policy, Kodiak Robotics joins Grayson Brulte on The Road to Autonomy podcast to discuss autonomous trucking logistics.

The conversation begins with Jordan talking about his journey from corporate lawyer to start-up lawyer. His love of being a lawyer and working on transformative technology and what happened when Kodiak Robotics Co-Founders, Don Burnette, and Paz Eshel asked Jordan to join Kodiak as General Counsel.

As my parents like to say, I was a lawyer when I was two-years old at the dinner table, well before I ever went to law school.

– Jordan Coleman

Expanding upon the dinner table conversation, Grayson asks Jordan to dive into family dinners and to share his insight into what his family would discuss over dinner. Jordan credits his parents and family for encouraging him to explore intellectual curiosity and have healthy debates.

My dinner table was a debate club, my dinner table was public speaking 101 and my dinner table was definitely law school 101.

– Jordan Coleman

The conversation evolves from the dinner table to a discussion on why autonomous trucks and what problems autonomous trucks can solve. The impact autonomous trucks will have on the economy and society as a whole.

The economy can not function well without a well functioning logistics system.

– Jordan Coleman

Autonomous trucks will make the roadways of the United States safer for every single driver and passenger on the road. Autonomous trucks will be safer than human drivers as they do not get distracted, they do not drink and drive and they do not tailgate.

For individuals who grew up in the ’80s with a third-row rear-facing seat in the back of their parent’s station wagons commonly known as the way-back, don’t worry your children will still be able to play the “Truck Honk Game”.

There is nothing more mom and apple pie Americana than pulling the old air horn sign and the truck honking that horn.

– Jordan Coleman

The perception team at Kodiak is actively working on ensuring that when a child does the “Truck Honk” arm pull, the autonomous truck will honk.

In addition to working on the “Truck Honk”, Kodiak is actively delivering loads in Texas and learning how to operate in Texas. Kodiak is developing a technology that is solving pain-points and ensuring customer happiness.

While Kodiak is purely focused on highway driving for autonomous trucks, a majority of the autonomous industry is focused on passenger vehicles in dense urban environments such as San Fransisco. San Fransisco is a notoriously complex city to drive in (both human and autonomously), not to mention a stringent regulatory environment.

With the uncertainty around business models and the complexity of driving in dense urban environments, Grayson asks Jordan about “The Great Pivot to Autonomous Trucking” and why companies are pivoting from passenger vehicles to trucks.

Part of the pivot is being driven by the economics of autonomous trucking as there is a clear path to profitability. The other part of the pivot is being driven by the fact that autonomous highway driving is an easier problem to solve than driving in dense urban environments.

Then there is the opportunity based on trends, the growth of e-commerce, and cooking at home with farm-to-table ingredients. These goods and ingredients are shipped to consumer homes on trucks.

Wrapping up the conversation, Grayson and Jordan discuss the economics of autonomous trucks, the trend of asset-light businesses, and why autonomous trucking as-a-service will become a reality in the future.

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Recorded on Tuesday, October 13, 2020