- Kodiak Robotics’ self-driving trucks are piloting pre-approved roadside inspections in an effort to bypass routine stops at weigh stations and other areas on Texas interstates.
- Instead of law enforcement, an inspector certified by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance inspects the autonomous tractor-trailers, with the tech platform Drivewyze relaying the information to roadside enforcement officers.
- The pilot began in April and will continue for a few more months, Kodiak Head of External Affairs Daniel Goff said in an email to Transport Dive. The company is working with Drivewyze to expand the pilot to other states.
The Texas-based pilot program is expected to serve as a model for other states as autonomous trucks become commercially available nationwide, according to Kodiak.
Traditional roadside inspections rely on drivers to assist, but this solution provides an alternative, noted Don Burnette, co-founder and CEO of Kodiak.
Last September, CVSA’s board approved an Enhanced Commercial Motor Vehicle Inspection Program for AVs in an effort to provide a new standard for the technology. Under the standard, CVSA-trained personnel inspect the vehicles at a starting point before dispatch and elsewhere as part of an AV’s trip.
“Kodiak has always had an eye on the future,” Drivewyze CEO Brian Heath said in a statement, adding that Kodiak is the first autonomous truck company to pilot the concept in Texas.
CVSA has already certified around 20 inspectors, which will likely be employed by autonomous trucking companies, fleets, hub operators and others, Goff said. Kodiak has employed three such inspectors, and a portion of its fleet in Texas has been piloting the concept.
The Texas Department of Public Safety previously adopted the CVSA policy and procedure regarding commercial vehicle inspections, and that includes the newly developed enhanced pre-trip inspection program, the law enforcement’s press office told Transport Dive in an email.
“The aim of this new program is to address issues regarding inspecting commercial vehicles when no driver is present,” the department said. “This enhanced inspection program requires that a CVSA-certified inspector conduct a thorough inspection of an autonomous truck a minimum of once every 24 hours.”
The program also requires autonomous vehicles to transmit safety data messaging to enforcement personnel. Unless there’s an obvious safety defect, meeting the program’s requirements allows self-driving vehicles to bypass weigh stations and other inspection sites, according to the state’s public safety department.
Texas has been testing the transfer of the safety data message set and granting bypasses to automated commercial vehicles that meet all requirements since April 2023, and testing is ongoing, the department said.
The testing there comes after the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reached out to the public in February to get input on automated driving systems regulations, including the CVSA Enhanced Commercial Motor Vehicle Inspection Program.
The federal government said in a notice it’s working with “key transportation stakeholders to develop a national policy framework to facilitate the safe integration of ADS technology, as well as other emerging technologies, into the transportation system.”
Kodiak’s Jordan Coleman, general counsel and VP of policy, was one of the businesses that weighed in with a letter to regulators. Among his comments, he noted that bypass programs work for traditional tractor-trailers.
“Through these programs, roadside officers will have access to Enhanced Inspection results, and can be warned of non-compliance the same way bypass programs alert officers to vehicle issues today,” Coleman wrote.