Starsky Robotics Truck
Source: Starsky Robotics

Many truck companies are trying out new things to remain in the market. One of these is Starsky Robotics. It is a self-driving and a human-driven car company that has been in the truck business for over three years now. Now, the company is finally ready to show its products in the market.

Starsky’s truck driving business has been running secretly for many years. The Company’s bigger pursuit is to develop autonomous vehicle technology. The company has over 36 regular trucks that use human drivers. It also has three autonomous trucks, which are driven by test drivers. Starsky, also, has employed some office people who know how to run trucks.

The product of the company isn’t a self-driving truck, as most people would think. The company has named the product “Hutch” and they think that it is something far more valuable. It gives automatic access to trucking capacity without any paper logs or phone calls.

The present trucking system has a giant number of shippers, brokers, freight carriers and drivers. This system always has more demand for capacity, than is available. To manage this huge capacity, most shippers team up with freight brokers. However, startups, like Loadsmart, Transfix, Uber Freight and Convoy are disrupting the freight broker system. They are making apps that match the drivers with the shippers, directly. On the other hand, traditional companies like Schneider have their own brokerages.

Starsky Robotics believe that it has made a product that will help it in dealing with the capacity problems of autonomous trucks. The company has no plans to sell its self-driving trucks to companies, like Schneider or get in contracts with big shippers. Instead, the Company has developed the Hutch API to deal with the capacity issue.

Hutch is an API, which gives major shippers, and freighters access to the company’s trucking capacity. The CEO of the company, Stefan Seltz-Axmacher describes that there is no “back office intervention.” Thus, the API gives the partner brokers and selected shippers the opportunity to merge with the Starsky’s operations. A broker can use the Hutch API to bid for the company’s human and autonomous trucks without actually calling the company.

“What we are doing is quite simple. We are selling the capacity of our autonomous trucks,” said Seltz-Axmacher. He also said that in other industries, an API Hutch would be everywhere. He further stated, “We shouldn’t have been talking if this API was to find the nearest scooter because I think around 30 of these exist. It is quite surprising how manual the trucking business is. All the technology that should have been present a few years ago, isn’t.”

Currently, Starsky Robotics’ trucks manage over 40 loads a day. However, most of the trucks have human drivers. Starsky hauls the freight with the help of brokers C.H. Robinson and Schneider Logistics. However, the company wants its major loads to be brokered through the API. Eventually, every load of the company will go through Hutch.

Hutch is quite important for the growth of Starsky. With Hutch, the Starsky staff can focus on building a robot that can drive safely and also bring relief to the trucking market. “I don’t intend to sell capacity with some phone calls to long negotiators, brokers, and other interested parties. However, I want to make it available to all the brokers through the API,” Seltz-Axmacher said.

Starsky Robotics can limit the API initially to the easiest and safest routes for the autonomous trucks. This means that the company will lose thousands of routes, throughout the country. However, company executives still see many opportunities. Seltz-Axmacher states, “We believe that over $50 billion freight market is available to us on the current routes. We will only drive in states where it is legal.” Thus, the current routes for Starsky are in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida.

Hutch is already active and working. In fact, the system was used for an autonomous truck a few weeks ago. Let us hope that this project doesn’t shut down, like the Uber self-driving truck project.