Self-driving truck technology is going electric

May 4, 2023

Tyson Fisher


For the first time, Kodiak Robotics has combined its self-driving technology with an electric truck, creating the first autonomous electric Class 8 truck.

According to a news release, Kodiak is upfitting a Peterbilt Model 579EV electric truck with the Kodiak Driver, the company’s self-driving technology. The Peterbilt 579EV is the second vehicle Kodiak is upfitting and includes fifth-generation sensors.

Kodiak claims the autonomous/electric Peterbilt 579EV can be recharged in three hours. The truck has a peak power rating of 670 horsepower.

However, the autonomous Peterbilt 579EV is not built for long-haul operations. It can only get up to 150 miles on a full charge, making the truck ideal for short haul and drayage operations. According to Kodiak, studies have demonstrated that autonomous technology enables a roughly 10% reduction in fuel consumption. Consequently, increased efficiency will help extend the range of electric vehicles.

“We believe that the future of trucking is the combination of electric and autonomous vehicles,” Kodiak Founder and CEO Don Burnette said in a statement. “Given advancements in battery and fuel cell technologies, achieving zero-emissions trucking will soon be within reach. Kodiak’s work on the Peterbilt Model 579EV will help us gain valuable experience in how to build autonomous electric vehicles, and help us realize that vision. Customers have been long asking for an autonomous electric vehicle and we are delivering on that need.”

Kodiak’s autonomous system is vehicle- and powertrain-agnostic, which enables the company to easily incorporate its autonomous system into emerging truck platforms as they become available, regardless of fuel type.

The company plans to look into other sustainable vehicle platforms, including fuel cells, as they hit the market.

The autonomous Peterbilt 579EV will be included in Kodiak’s fleet next year.

Kodiak has been making headlines within the trucking industry over the past several months. In November, the company released a video highlighting how its autonomous driving system deals with a steering-tire blowout. Kodiak claims that its technology “can handle tire blowouts better than the average human driver.”

In September, Kodiak announced an agreement with Omaha, Neb.-based Werner Enterprises to operate a 24/7 long-haul autonomous trucking lane. The company says the goal of the collaboration is “to showcase how efficiently autonomous trucks can be used with a transfer hub model at truckports.” LL

Staff writer Ryan Witkowski contributed to this report