America’s Growing e-commerce and the economy have given rise to the trucking industry as well. The trucking industry is considered one of the fastest-growing sectors, and it covers a large portion of the economy.
As per the American Trucking Association survey, users had faced a shortage of 51,000 commercial truck drivers at the end of 2017. But as the demand for trucking has gone up, the problem of manpower is also witnessing a jump as its getting affected by severe working conditions and high risk as all those heavy vehicles are driven on highways.
Although highway routes are not that complicated in structure as it has simple long routes but have to drive with specific speed limitations. Driving on highways is just a robotics task, you have to set a speed and drive on the path. In short, fewer decisions for drivers to make and highways are a better fit for autonomous vehicles.
For bridging the gap between trucks and manpower, Don Burnette and Paz Eshel founded the autonomous truck’s platform Kodiak Robotics in April 2018. As autonomous trucks run by its robotics technology, that doesn’t need a driver, enhances the truck driving quality, reducing congestion, emissions, and increases efficiency. Apart from that, Kodiak’s self-driving truck has a human safety and a security driver behind its wheels.
Don Burnette holds a master’s degree in robotics from Carnegie Mellon University. Alongside, Kodiak, Don is also known as the owner of a self-driving tech named Otto, which later was acquired by Uber. Don formerly worked at Uber as software technical lead. On the other hand, Paz Eshel, who is now a co-founder and COO at Kodiak, earlier he was a VP at VC Battery Ventures in 2012. Paz became friends with Don while skydiving 6 years ago.
At that time when Don met him, Paz was closely studying autonomous vehicle tech companies and was determined to get into a startup where he finds a promising future. Even he had met with many companies who were working on sensors. From Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) to Tier 1 (suppliers) to those who were involved in doing full-stack work of sensors. But his only aim was to gain experience and strengthen his profile enough so that he could work with the world-class team.
Although, the idea of Kodiak Robotics of autonomous vehicle tech was highly attractive and promising as the need for long-haul trucking was in much demand, therefore, he teamed up with Don in April 2018.
A New York University pass out, Paz holds a bachelor’s in Finance and International Business. Earlier, he had spent several years in Lazard, practicing the technology investment banking. Paz was also responsible for various partnerships and acquisitions of firms. Besides, he also did the financing and advising on bankruptcy and divestitures over Nortel Networks.
In August 2018, Kodiak Robotics received its Series A funding of $40,000,000 led by Battery Ventures along with the participation of Tusk Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Itzik Parnafes. Besides, Itzik Parnafes, a general partner at Battery Ventures, had joined Kodiak’s board.
Just after a year, in August 2019, Kodiak had announced that it had begun a commercial service between Dallas and Houston with over 400 miles roundtrips. The founders claim that Kodiak is expanding swiftly since the launch, and it has 8 independent vehicles in its fleet.
Kodiak Robotics has also been featured in WIRED, TechCrunch, Forbes, Bloomberg, and CNBC. With having such an efficient team onboard and a fleet of experienced leaders, Kodiak is all set to disrupt the heavy truck segment and focusing on going up to the ladder by strengthening the team and scaling the business.
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