Navigating interstates should be a straightforward task for self-driving systems. Traffic flows in one direction. Speeds are consistent. Pedestrians are rare sights.
Airfields, it turns out, are remarkably similar places.
"They're very structured environments," said Andreas Wendel, vice president of engineering at self-driving truck company Kodiak Robotics. "There's no people running around. It fits in very well with what you can automate on a highway, and [you can] transport goods that are heading to and from a plane."
That's what Kodiak Robotics intends to do as part of a new contract with the U.S. Air Force. The Mountain View, Calif., startup is developing self-driving technology for vehicles on the flight line at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. Home to the 436th Aerial Port Squadron, Dover is a critical military hub for cargo destined for worldwide locations.