Self-driving truck startup Starsky Robotics recently completed a series of road tests in Tampa, Florida. The trucks drove on one of the reversible express lanes along the 15-mile Lee Roy Selmon Expressway during the week of May 13.
The purpose of this test was to measure the truck’s ability to come to an immediate stop if a problem with one of its cameras was detected. For this test, an employee remained in the truck as a safety precaution.
“We are testing our safety architecture. What we are doing is basically telling our truck that some part of it is failing so that we can measure and make sure our truck knows it’s failing and takes appropriate action,” said Stefan Seltz-Axmacher, chief executive and co-founder of Starsky Robotics.
In February 2018, Starsky completed a 7 mile driverless trip in Florida. For that test, there was no human onboard as the self-driving truck was monitored remotely. Since 2017, the company has raised about 22 million dollars to help develop its technology. Starsky is also testing self-driving trucks in Texas.
Starsky’s Goal is to Have Drivers Operate Trucks Remotely
Starsky’s ultimate goal is to have unmanned semi-trucks on U.S. roadways with a truck driver operating the first and last mile of an operation via remote control. In a profession that has high turnover, Starsky feels that by allowing drivers to control trucks remotely it will ultimately make roads safer while attracting more drivers.
“Our approach is taking the person out of the truck and have them working remotely to make high-level decisions while the truck is on the highway. To be honest, I don’t think that a super-computer can be built that is smarter than a truck driver,” said Seltz-Axmacher.