Creating a successful self-driving vehicle business can be tougher than it looks.
Since its founding in 2015, Starsky Robotics raised more than $20 million to develop driverless trucks.
“In 2016, we became the first street-legal vehicle to be paid to do real work without a person behind the wheel, states Starsky CEO and co-founder Stefan Seltz-Axmacher in a blog post. “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.”
Unfortunately, anticipated advances in artificial intelligence didn’t materialize, which didn’t help the timing of the trucks advancing.
“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,” states Seltz-Axmacher, noting that the consensus has become that self-driving cars are at least 10 years away.
“Rather than seeing exponential improvements in the quality of AI performance (a la Moore’s Law), we’re instead seeing exponential increases in the cost to improve AI systems — supervised ML seems to follow an S-Curve.”
For a startup, 10 years without shipping a product is the road to failure.
The expected next round of financing, a $20 million Series B., fell apart.
Startsky Robotics and its self-driving trucks are no more.
The company has shut down.