TORONTO, Ont. – Starsky Robotics had a dream of developing an autonomous truck, but its dream is coming to an end as it closes its doors.
Founder and CEO Stefan Seltz-Axmacher has announced the closure in a blog for Medium.
“In 2015, I got obsessed with the idea of driverless trucks and started Starsky Robotics. In 2016, we became the first street-legal vehicle to be paid to do real work without a person behind the wheel. In 2018, we became the first street-legal truck to do a fully unmanned run, albeit on a closed road. In 2019, our truck became the first fully-unmanned truck to drive on a live highway,” he said. “And in 2020, we’re shutting down.”
He cited challenges ranging form the limits of artificial intelligence, to a trucking industry recession.
“The space was too overwhelmed with the unmet promise of [artificial intelligence] to focus on a practical solution,” he explains. “As those breakthroughs failed to appear, the downpour of investor interest became a drizzle. It also didn’t help that last year’s tech IPOs took a lot of energy out of the tech industry, and that trucking has been in a recession for 18 or so months.”
The company’s US $20-million Series B fundraising effort fell short on Nov. 12, and most of the team was laid off Nov. 15. He’s now in the midst of selling assets including patents relating to operating unmanned vehicles.
Most teams working on autonomous vehicles work at a “professorial pace” and lack “tangible deployment milestones,” he added.
“The consensus has become that we’re at least 10 years away from self-driving cars.”
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