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Self-driving truck startup Kodiak Robotics raises $40 million

A week after Uber shut down its autonomous trucking unit another jumps into the fray.

One of Uber’s co-founders Don Burnette, has teamed up with former venture capitalist Paz Eshel to launch Kodiak robotics.

Kodiak Robotics,  which was founded in April, is coming out of stealth loaded up with venture capital.

Kodiak Robotics announced Tuesday it has raised $40 million in Series A financing led by Battery Ventures. CRV, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Tusk Ventures also participated in the round. Itzik Parnafes, a general partner at Battery Ventures, will join Kodiak’s board.

Kodiak Robotics will use the funds to expand its team and for product development. The company has about 10 employees, according to Eshel, who was a vice president at Battery Ventures, where he led the firm’s autonomous-vehicle investment project.

Burnette noted the core engineering team — many of whom have experience in shipping self-driving vehicles on public roads — has been assembled.

The pair weren’t ready to discuss the company’s go-to-market strategy. They did share the basic vision though: use self-driving technology to ease the current strain on the freight market.

Uber’s ill-fated efforts aside, the self-driving truck space is particularly hot right now. Trucking reels in roughly $700 billion in annual revenue in the United States, according to the American Trucking Association, which also estimates that there was a 51,000-person driver shortage last year. A growing handful of startups, including Starsky Robotics, Embark and TuSimple, are all trying to cash in on that opportunity.

Kodiak Robotics plans to use light detection and ranging radar known as LiDAR as well as camera, radar and sonar technologies. “Pretty much everything you can imagine self-driving cars using in a comprehensive sensor fusion type system,” Burnette said.

Engineers will focus on developing the full self-driving system stack from the company’s own hardware and software architectures. However, Kodiak Robotics is not going to build any sensors. Instead it will use sensors from third-party suppliers.

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