Starsky Robotics Drove a Fully-Driverless Truck (and raised $16.5m from Shasta Ventures)

It’s hard to drive a truck from sea to shining sea. Long days, weeks away from the family, and ever present danger: it’s really difficult to get people to spend a month at a time in a truck. It’s the main problem facing the trucking industry.

And you only solve it by getting the driver out of the truck. Any autonomous truck that still needs a physical driver doesn’t solve the problem.

As of today, Starsky Robotics is the only autonomous truck team with a product.

I’m thrilled to announce that we drove a truck 7 miles fully unmanned. No safety driver behind the wheel, no engineer hiding on the bunk. We are the first company to make driverless trucks reality. Watch our GoPro footage below.

Starsky Robotics — First Drive, directed by Ben Strang at Blueprint Motion Pictures

I’m also thrilled to announce that we’ve closed a $16.5m Series A round led by Shasta Ventures. And we’re grateful for the substantial participation we received this round from our previous investors, including Y Combinator,, 50 Years, 9Point Ventures, and many others.

“The trucking industry can’t fill all the jobs it has today,” says Rob Coneybeer, Founder and Managing Director of Shasta Ventures. “The delivery of goods isn’t going anywhere, but the labor shortage in the industry looms large, threatening its long-term growth. That’s where Starsky fits in. The company is no just amplifying the productivity of experienced drivers and helping the industry continue to grow, but it is also transforming logistics as we know it.”

Starsky Robotics truck “Buster” aiding Hurricane Irma relief in Florida, September 2017 (Courtesy of Dan Feldman)

We Covered A Lot of Distance this Past Year

In April, we started regularly using self-driving trucks to haul commercial freight. We made our system work in truck yards and major freight lanes, hauling everything from 5,000 pounds of milk crates to 40,000 pounds of tile.

In September, we completed the longest end-to-end autonomous trip — ever. After Hurricane Irma hit southwestern Florida, we used one of our trucks to help aid the recovery efforts, hauling water 68 miles without human intervention — an industry record.

Since founding Starsky Robotics in 2015, we’ve never stopped envisioning how technology can help solve this trucking industry challenge and offer its disaffected workers newer, safer opportunities. We’re making trucks autonomous for the long, boring stretches of highway where driving is easy; and remote-controlled where driving requires a human touch. Rather than spending weekends at distant truck stops; we want drivers to spend them watching their daughters’ soccer games. Below is a documentary we made with Blueprint Motion Pictures after our September milestone.

Starsky Robotics — The Long Haul directed by Ben Strang at Blueprint Motion Pictures

The Road Ahead

Our news today puts us one major step closer toward realizing our vision.

· This year we’re hauling commercial freight with unmanned trucks.

This marks a major advance for the future of autonomous, unmanned ground transportation. It’s time for autonomy to move out of the prototype phase and into commercial deployment. Working with partners, we will use unmanned trucks to haul freight in 2018.

A Starsky Robotics remote truck driver

· We’re growing our team.

We need all the passionate, creative and smart folks out there to join in helping our vision get on the road. Over the next six months, we’re planning to meaningfully expand our team of truck drivers and engineers.

If you’re an experienced driver who cares about safety and is passionate about technology, please apply.

If you’re an engineer who wants to help pioneer the future of transportation, please apply here.

With the new talent on our team, we believe we can safely accomplish truly unmanned transportation years before the rest of the market. And we think that Year 0 is 2018.

Keepin’ on truckin’

Stefan + Kartik

Photo credit: David Rorex