Loadsmart and Starsky Make First Start-to-Finish Autonomous Truck Delivery

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Loadsmart and Starsky make first fully-autonomous truck delivery from start to finish.

TruckingInfo reports Loadsmart and Starsky Robotics Make First-Ever Digital Freight Delivery Via Autonomous Truck

According to the two companies, the integration of Loadsmart's AI-powered pricing and load matching technology with Starsky's API meant no human intervention was required. The historic initiative is part of a larger strategic partnership which paves the way for the future of trucking: autonomous brokerages dispatching freight to autonomous trucks without human involvement.

Loadsmart said it was able to connect its network of customers with Starsky's fleet of regular and self-driving trucks by integrating Loadsmart's Automated Dispatch API with Starsky's Hutch API.

As a result of the partnership, Starsky is able to dispatch its trucks automatically without human intervention, while Loadsmart can expand its ability to automate the shipping process from quoting to booking to delivery to help its clients move more with less.

"For the first time ever, the advances that seem obvious for the ride-sharing services are coming to trucking," said Stefan Seltz-Axmacher, CEO and founder of Starsky Robotics. "It's not uncommon for a traditional trucking company to have five full-time employees involved in dispatching each truck for each load. By integrating e-brokers like Loadsmart, we are eliminating all back office human intervention and making the shipment process seamless, while focusing on ensuring the safety of driverless trucks. With Starsky's Hutch API, which was also announced today, we will be able to autonomously dispatch autonomous loads on a regular basis."

Delivery Details

Trucks.Com has additional details on the delivery.

Digital freight broker Loadsmart and self-driving truck developer Starsky Robotics completed what they say is the first autonomous dispatch and delivery of freight. The team paired in late July to book and deliver a load of corn in Texas with minimal human involvement.

Loadsmart digitally priced, tendered and booked the shipment. A Starsky self-driving truck picked up and delivered the raw corn to a customer in Grand Prairie, Texas.

Such partnerships are likely to expand as freight and logistics becomes increasingly digital, said Cathy Morrow Roberson of Atlanta-based Logistics Trends & Insights.

Eventually I see the marriage between digital freight brokerages and autonomous trucks,” Roberson said. “It makes sense from an efficiency and timing perspective. And it could be beneficial as the trucking market continues to struggle with attracting and retaining drivers.”

Mass Adoption

There are two things holding up mass adoption.

  1. National Regulation
  2. More Testing

Requirement two is proceeding nicely.

Starsky plans to begin commercialization next month. To find potential problems an autonomous fleet might face, the company has a 6-person team operating a 40-truck fleet.

“We want to triple the size of that fleet by the end of the year, but we don’t want to triple the size of our operations team,” Seltz-Axmacher said.

He plans to build 25 autonomous trucks by the end of this year. To limit human involvement, Starsky intends to use its proprietary application programming interface, or API, to dispatch the trucks for tests.

“What we are doing is creating an API that brokers can use to negotiate for additional capacity and then hire that capacity without anybody talking to anyone else,” Seltz-Axmacher said.

Intense Competition

Competition in this space is intense. I have lost track of the number of competing in this space. It includes all the major car manufacturers, Waymo (Google), Otto, Loadsmart, Starsky, Amazon, Uber, and Lyft.

That's what guarantees success, sooner rather that later, despite the poor current technology of Uber.

Robertson gets it correct with her assessment "Autonomous trucks will become more the norm than the exception.”

Inner-city truck deliveries will still require drivers, for a period of time, but rural deliveries like the one above and hub-to-hub interstate deliveries by autonomous truck will soon be standard.

100 Pigs Die

On July 19, an Overturned Semitruck Closed a Freeway Ramp in Louisville. On July 17, More than 100 Pigs Die After Truck Overturns on I-65 Ramp at Spaghetti Junction near Louisville.

Benefits

  • Accident rates will plunge. Nearly all truck accidents are driver error.
  • Insurance rates will drop.
  • The cost of the driver will be eliminated. No more union dues.
  • Trucks can drive 24-7. They do not have to sleep.

The benefits are overwhelming. Tremendous benefits coupled with intense competition ensures success. Within a year or two of national regulator approval, autonomous semi-truck deliveries will be the norm.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (42)
No. 1-16
RonJ
RonJ

In other news, a Tesla in Moscow, apparently on autopilot, crashed into a tow truck, bursting into flames.

shamrock
shamrock

Providing that it actually does work, the benefits will be overwhelming. However, it's not possible to transform an industry with 3 or 4 million trucks in a year or two. That will take a decade or two and probably investments of $300-500B, not a trivial amount. Most will be content to sit back and wait for a while to see how it works out.

caradoc-again
caradoc-again

Another benefit, double edged sword, fewer trucks needed.

This will feed back into the automotive-industrial complex in a deflationary way. Fewer factories etc. Demand reduction across the spectrum.

So - fewer workers, less end demand, less industrial demand.

The potential deflationary impact of technology will grind away for a long while yet.

Sechel
Sechel

always thought we'd see autonomous trucks before autonomous cars. but i still think there will be a driver back-up for some time to come. the advantages are in safety and aerodynamic gains from having a convoy of trucks riding close together

Bill7718
Bill7718

I think we will also see many self driving trucks driving at night. A human driver will drive the last few miles. This will mean better utilisation of the road infrastructure.

Dyleck0680
Dyleck0680

I wish to see how they prevent hacking into such trucks to avoid someone making them driving into crowded place. Huge competition and short supply of skilled programmers guarantees such possibilities being possible.

Lost_Anchor
Lost_Anchor

Yet another Tesla auto-driving crash in the news. The other players, including Google, have drastically scaled back their aspirations. National auto-driving might happen some day, but its still many many years away.

And Mish somehow forgot to mention a HUGE road block to auto driving vehicles. In a society that is absolutely infested with trial lawyers, it is naive to think someone won't be held liable in a court of law when these things crash.

No blog post that ignores this legal liability has credibility, and Mish isn't a lawyer

Carl_R
Carl_R

Thankfully computers are always secure, and can't be hacked into. Otherwise, image what might happen.

SleemoG
SleemoG

The only comments are negative because there's no need to advocate for autonomous cars anymore. They are as inevitable as the weather.

Mish
Mish

Editor

Yeah right - let's compare Tesla to Waymo

Mish
Mish

Editor

"I wish to see how they prevent hacking into such trucks to avoid someone making them driving into crowded place. "

Yea - right easy as pie

Mish
Mish

Editor

"That will take a decade or two and probably investments of $300-500B, not a trivial amount."

It will take 3-4 years - savings is too great for commercial enterprises

What may take a long time is non-commercial Perhaps 2028-2030

Call it 1 decade but perhaps that is far too pessimistic

Webej
Webej

Anybody have any ideas on how to turn 3-4 million ex-truck drivers into consumers?

KidHorn
KidHorn

I can see a new business opportunity. On call truck drivers and repair. For the times a truck breaks down or gets stuck in a tight spot. They call a local company to get the truck back up and running. There will likely be something like a code that will allow a driver and/or repairman to get access to the truck.

njbr
njbr

Auto-driving trucks going truck hub-to-truck-hub are the most natural fit for implementation and will happen first. All other applications will be much more difficult and may be decades off until (when and if) autonomous autos dominate traffic. The 24 hour operation is the deciding factor, even if the driving needs to be done at lower-speed restricted to the right lane. Weather and unexpected events will also not overcome the advantage of a 24 hour-a-day operation.

Things that need to be worked out: refueling of auto-driving trucks, relocation of some hubs out of metro traffic areas, out-thinking mischief of others.

newmish
newmish

The promise and hype of this tech is nothing but the failing alchemical desperation of mankind trapped by his own stink. There isn't a single car in production now that has over a 79% reliability rating. NOT ONE! And 79% reliability is just for a hand full of high end very expensive cars. If your car breaks down now no one is killed or maimed. Do you think humans can produce self-driving vehicles with enough reliability to avoid a 20% fail rate? Think again bucko!