According to South Florida news outlets, autonomous truck startup Starsky Robotics conducted a test of its Level 4 vehicle control systems on a stretch of the Selmon Expressway near Tampa, Florida, during the week of May 13. The designated stretch of roadway was closed to the public during the test run, which took place after morning rush hour.
After a delay of more than an hour, the truck started on a seven-mile drive down the expressway with no humans in the vehicle, according to news reports. Tampa's NBC afflilate, WFLA News Channel 8, carried the test live on TV.
Unlike other autonomous truck startups in North America, Starsky Robotics has taken the position that human drivers will not be needed in vehicles equipped with its technology. Starsky Robotics has indicatd that it is going all-in on the early adoption of Level 5 autonomous systems, moving freight without any human in the vehicle at all.
“It’s hard to drive a truck from sea to shining sea,” said Stefan Seltz-Axmacher, CEO and co-founder of Starsky Robotics, in a blog post last year. “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.”
Starsky Robotics has not yet commented publicly on the Florida highway test.