Starsky Robotics: Driverless Trucks that Don’t Leave Drivers in the Dust by@stefan_66577

Starsky Robotics: Driverless Trucks that Don’t Leave Drivers in the Dust

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Stefan Seltz-Axmacher HackerNoon profile picture

Stefan Seltz-Axmacher

Today, for the first time publicly, I’m very excited to announce that Starsky Robotics has been working to make driverless trucks a reality since September 2015.

On February 3, 2017 one of our trucks hauled a 5000-lb load 140 miles, and drove itself for 120 of those miles.

It’s telling that the only autonomous company truly in market isn’t using LIDAR. While LIDAR’s promise is great, we think that waiting for its development is a moral hazard. Our highway autonomy relies on computer vision, radar and software. These are technologies that are well understood and allow us to quickly start saving lives on the road.

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From an integration perspective, we aren’t compromising trucks’ existing systems by hacking into them. Instead, we’ve built a retrofit kit to actuate the physical controls of the truck but don’t hinder the capacity of our safety drivers to take control. Our system physically pushes the pedals, turns the steering wheel, and changes gear. Our focus on long-haul driving gives our system almost the same functionality as a driver with way greater availability.

Which is important because the core problem in North American logistics is rather straightforward. It’s really, really hard to get a human being to spend a month at a time in a truck. That’s why truck driver turnover is over 100%/yr and there’s a shortage of 50,000 drivers. Any technology that requires a human physically get into a truck doesn’t solve the problem.

We are solving this problem and moving freight on the highway this month was the first step. We’ll begin regular service in the next few months, and we plan to remove safety drivers from certain vehicles by the end of the year.

We’re on to something big and are starting regular service

We think we’re on to something big, are starting regular service in the coming months and have been able to put together a great team. We’ve raised $3.75m from Y-Combinator, Sam Altman, Trucks VC, Data Collective and many others; have a network trucking, regulatory, startup, and technical experts advising us; and now have 11 people on our team. But building driverless trucks is non-trivial, and we need help.

We’re going to change a $700b industry which contributes 15% to the cost of everything. Check out our website for areas we particularly need help in, and send us an email if none are a perfect fit.

Keepin’ on Truckin’

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-Stefan & Kartik

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