San Francisco-based Starsky Robotics recently raised $16.5 million in a Series A funding. But, more importantly, it also recently completed a seven-mile drive without a human in the truck. Albeit took place on a closed track with no traffic, these companies need to start somewhere.
The drive took place in mid-February on Route 833 in Hendry County, Florida, with no traffic. The 20,000-pound autonomous truck drove 35 MPH. Starsky claims it’s the first company to publicly test an autonomous truck without a human inside. After Hurricane Irma hit southwestern Florida, a Starsky autonomous truck, with a human inside the cabin, drove 68 miles without human intervention to deliver water and help recovery efforts.
Starsky is taking a different approach to autonomous trucks than the competition. Starsky’s trucks are remotely operated by humans when exiting highways and driving the local streets to distribution centers – and vice versa. Autonomous driving on highways is much easier than the first and last miles on public roads.
The company said this approach allows truckers to stay close to home. They will essentially become remote drivers working in driver centers around the country, while earning the wages of a long-haul trucker.
William K. says
What would be accepted today by both drivers and trucking companies is driver assistance systems. Hardware to help with safe following, and especially, systems to help keep the speed safe as road conditions change, while alerting the drivers to conditions ahead. Reducing fatigue while improving driver awareness would be accepted by both sides of the issue. Who could argue with improving both safety and profits?
William K. says
Here is another question, which is, how many different responses does the truck control computer have for any given situation, either actual or possible? The lack of the correct response is why the UBER car killed that woman in Florida. The car had only two choices and both were wrong! When the computer vision system noticed the woman next to the road it should have moved away, either into the next lane, or at least to the far edge of it’s own lane. That is what a smart human driver would do. . But it is certain that the computer only saw a clear lane and thus it was not in a position to avoid hitting the poor woman. If the car had been on the left edge of it’s lane it would have either missed her or just grazed her, but instead it saw no potential problem and so went on with it’s program of staying in the lane center. This is the intrinsic flaw in computer driven cars and there is no way to fix it. The best approach would be to stop wasting money before hundreds of folks die!