Unmanned Starsky Robotics Truck Navigates Florida Expressway

Starsky truck
Starsky Robotics' Class 8 Volvo sleeper berth tractor-trailer travels at 55 mph down a 9.4-mile stretch of Florida’s Turnpike in Orlando on June 16. (Starsky Robotics/YouTube)

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Automated truck technology startup Starsky Robotics successfully completed its first unmanned test drive on a public highway June 16.

The Class 8 Volvo sleeper berth tractor-trailer traveled at 55 mph down a 9.4-mile stretch of Florida’s Turnpike in Orlando.

Traffic was not stopped while the truck navigated the roads, merged onto the highway, entered a rest area and changed lanes. The operation was closely watched by the company from a remote location to ensure all maneuvers were executed properly.

Last month, the company had a successful test at 55 mph on a closed section of Selmon Expressway outside Tampa, Fla., setting a record for the fastest unmanned road-legal vehicle.


The unmanned drive down Florida's Turnpike was monitored remotely by Starsky employees. (Starsky Robotics/YouTube)

The San Francisco-based company has been pushing its technology forward at a rapid pace. On Feb. 16 and 17 the company took a Class 8 Freightliner tractor and set it up with sensor and camera technology to run on a closed road in Hendry County, Fla. The two days of trial runs were closely monitored by a “remote driver” from an office roughly 80 miles away.

“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,” CEO and co-founder Stefan Seltz-Axmacher said.

Starsky says it plans to accelerate testing of unmanned service and is looking to hire interns, engineers and drivers to facilitate rapid expansion.