Starsky Robotics, a startup developing automated trucks with remote driving capabilities, has officially begun testing unmanned trucks on public highways with live traffic. On June 16, Starsky completed its first public unmanned test, driving a heavy-duty commercial truck for 9.4 mi (15 km) along Florida’s Turnpike with no one in it. The truck successfully navigated a rest area, merged onto the highway, changed lanes, and kept a speed of 55 mph (88 km/h) without a human onboard.
Starsky Robotics' system makes trucks automated on the highway and remote controlled by human drivers for the first and last miles. Starsky says it has built a highway automation system combined with teleoperation capability that allows remote drivers to navigate trucks between distribution centers and the highway.
“At Starsky, we are taking a distinctly unique approach to automation and safety. We aren’t building fully autonomous trucks designed to operate without any human intervention or relying exclusively on computers to make every driving decision. We know that today, humans are better at navigating many of the nuances of driving than even the most advanced computer systems, which is why we use remote drivers to help our trucks at their most contextually complex junctures,” said Stefan Seltz-Axmacher, the CEO and Cofounder of Starsky Robotics.
In February 2018, Starsky drove fully unmanned for 7 mi (11 km) at 25 mph (40 km/h) on a closed road in Florida. Last month, the team says it was able to repeat it but at a much higher speed. Starsky Robotics set a record for the fastest unmanned road-legal vehicle, when the truck hit 55 mph with nobody onboard during a test on a closed portion of the Selmon Expressway outside Tampa.
Over the next few months and years, Starsky says it will begin an accelerated pace of testing as it works toward unmanned regular service. Starsky plans to expand the size of its fleet, increase the driving conditions in which it can operate safely, and conduct more unmanned tests in the future.