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News, Analysis & Perspective on Autonomous Vehicles

Starsky Robotics failed. Does that mean automated trucking is dead?

I met Stefan Seltz-Axmacher for the first time in November 2015 at the Florida Automated Vehicles Summit. Not long after, we met at the Blue Danube coffee shop in Alameda, CA so he could tell me about his vision for Starsky Robotics. When he energetically described his remote-driving-for-trucks approach, I was skeptical. “Remote driving is hard,” I said. “The military has struggled with this for years. Its harder than it looks.” On the technical side, latency for secure communications is challenging. On the operational side, re-creating enough on-road reality (situational awareness) for a remote driver is difficult when going for the high levels of safety needed. Seltz-Axmacher remained bullish on the approach and at that time went on to found Starsky Robotics as one of the earliest truck AV startups, later closing a $16.5M Series A funding round in March 2018, and then hauling freight while developing both remote and automated driving ability.  Initially, Starsky’s concept was all about remote driving for first/last mile. They later expanded their offering to include fully automated highway driving on limited freight corridors.

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