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Starsky Robotics runs 18-wheeler on Florida Turnpike with no human on board

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Starsky Robotics recently operated an 18-wheeler on a 9-mile stretch of the Florida Turnpike in normal traffic conditions, cruising at 55 mph with no human onboard. A teleoperator more than 150 miles away in Jacksonville controlled the vehicle through its more complex maneuvers. (Courtesy: STARSKY ROBOTICS)

In the race to develop autonomous truck technology, Starsky Robotics separated itself from the pack June 16, when the company ran one of its automated 18-wheelers on a 9.4-mile stretch of the Florida Turnpike near Orlando without a human being on board.

Instead, a safety driver sat at a console at the company’s facility in Jacksonville, watching a collection of monitors fed by the truck’s onboard cameras. The console was equipped with a small steering wheel and accelerator and brake pedals with which he could perform last-mile and other operations.

Now, whether the feat truly qualifies as “autonomous,” “self-driving” or “driverless” is a matter for the Word Police to decide and competitors to argue over. By any name, the company is chalking it up as a victory and a major step in its long-term strategy.

Founded in 2016 in San Francisco, where it is still based, by Stefan Seltz-Axmacher and Kartik Tiwari, Starsky Robotics got its operating authority in 2017. While developing driverless technology, the company is also a traditional carrier with about three dozen trucks operating throughout the Lower 48.

Meanwhile, Starsky has been conducting progressively ambitious experiments with driverless technology. According to Seltz-Axmacher, the company’s approach to driverless technology is less about replacing humans altogether but to create a system where the machines can do what they do best and humans can still do the parts of the job they do better than the machines.

In this latest test, the remote driver maneuvered the truck from its starting point at a rest stop and onto the highway. He also ordered a lane change and handled the last-mile maneuvering when it was time to exit.

This turnpike test run, conducted in normal driving conditions, is the latest in a series of progressively more ambitious experiments. In February 2018, Starsky successfully ran one of its trucks at low speed along a 7-mile stretch of closed road in Southern Florida. In May this year, they operated a truck at a sustained 55 mph on a closed portion of the Selmon Expressway near Tampa. In interviews, Seltz-Axmacher has said that 55 mph is the intended highway speed at which Starsky will run its automated trucks commercially.

Earlier in June, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law allowing commercial vehicles to operate on public roads without the presence of human drivers on board. The new law replaces a law enacted in 2012 that required a human driver on board vehicle operating on public property for any reason other than testing.

The law goes into effect July 1.

Starsky’s goal is to have 20-25 driverless trucks operating commercially in 2020, training traditional drivers to be teleoperators.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Louis Hall

    July 5, 2019 at 8:19 am

    So does this operator that’s 150 miles from that truck have a CDL and all the qualifications of a truck driver , cause to me he a driver and should anything’ happen , wreck – mechanical malfunction- stolen – all the human variables that could apply to a driver he’s going to be the fall guy , you know you are trying to make a perfect world situation in an imperfect world, if all this time- money and talent been put into recruiting and higher pay standards and better link runs there would be no need for fantasyland transportation, .PS I see you governed the truck at 55 mph that is causing a traffic hazard, remember imperfect world.

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New Alliance Parts products, retail locations creates one-stop solution

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Alliance Parts has also recently opened 13 new stand-alone retail stores in North America, in locations including Hartford, Conn., and St. Cloud, Minn., and has also expanded retail areas at 22 different dealerships. (Courtesy: DAIMLER TRUCKS NORTH AMERICA)

PORTLAND, Ore. — With the recent addition of new retail locations and more value-based parts to its portfolio, Alliance Parts is fulfilling Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA)’s vision of a one-stop solution, providing exceptional customer experiences and parts to customers when and where they need them.

The growing parts portfolio, increasing retail footprint, and ability to deliver parts in 24 hours or less will benefit customer uptime.

Alliance Parts has added more than 11 new value product lines to its portfolio. The addition of the new parts – which includes items ranging from diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) filters and air brake compressors to slack adjustors – broadens an already expansive portfolio of products available at dealerships, as well as stand-alone Alliance Parts retail locations.

Alliance Parts has also recently opened 13 new stand-alone retail stores in North America, in locations including Hartford, Conn., and St. Cloud, Minn., and has also expanded retail areas at 22 different dealerships.

“We set aggressive goals to expand our retail footprint and value-based product offerings to meet our long-term objective of creating superior experiences that will help our customers get back on the road,” said Brad Williamson, director, Alliance Parts and Detroit Reman Marketing & Sales. “We’re proud of the strides we’ve already made with our new products and retail locations, and we’re continuing our push to be the customers’ first choice for value parts.”

Go to www.AllianceParts.com for a complete list of Alliance Parts locations and available products.

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Papé Kenworth Northwest opens 6,600 square-foot parts and service facility

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The new Papé Kenworth Northwest location features a 3,200 square-foot service department with three service bays, well-stocked parts department, and comfortable driver’s lounge. (Courtesy: KENWORTH TRUCK CO.)

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — Papé Kenworth Northwest has opened a new 6,600 square-foot parts and service facility in Bellingham, Washington.

Located 90 miles north of Seattle and 25 miles south of the Canadian border, the new Papé Kenworth Northwest-Bellingham dealership provides service and parts to customers traveling along the busy north-south Interstate 5 corridor.

The new location features a 3,200 square-foot service department with three service bays, well-stocked parts department, and comfortable driver’s lounge that drivers can enjoy while their trucks are serviced. The facility sits on more than 1.5 acres for convenient parking.

Papé Kenworth Northwest-Bellingham is at 1400 Iowa Street in Bellingham and offers easy I-5 access at Exit 254. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The phone number is 360-526-2850.

Papé Kenworth Northwest operates six dealerships in Washington (Aberdeen, Bellingham, Lakewood, Marysville, SeaTac and Yakima). Papé Kenworth Alaska operates two dealerships in Anchorage and Fairbanks.

Papé Kenworth operates eight dealerships in Oregon – Donald, Eugene, Klamath Falls, Medford, Portland, Redmond, Roseburg and Tangent; five in central California  –  Bakersfield, Fresno, Santa Maria, Stockton and Turlock; and one in Washington – Kelso.

Papé Kenworth Northwest, Papé Kenworth Alaska and Papé Kenworth are part of The Papé family of Companies. For more information, visit www.papekenworth.com

 

 

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Zonar updates transition checklist for switching AOBRDs to ELDs

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Zonar was founded in 2001 to help fleets of all sizes maximize the use of their assets with solutions dedicated to improving compliance, efficiency, maintenance, ridership visibility, safety and tracking. Courtesy: ZONAR)

SEATTLE — With less than six months to go until the final electronic logging device mandate Mandate deadline, many carriers using automatic on-board recording devices have still not transitioned to ELDs, according to Zonar officials.

The mandate grandfathered in fleets using AOBRD giving them until December 16, 2019, to switch to ELDs to avoid faulty products or services and reach full compliance.

As such, Zonar, a provider of fleet management technology, has updated its AOBRD transition checklist to help fleet managers strategically manage the limited time remaining to choose the right vendor and solution for their business. This guide outlines how carriers can find the best solution to fit their needs, by December 16, 2019.

“We understand that businesses are waiting to make the shift from ABOBRDs to ELDs for many reasons but non-compliance or choosing the wrong solution can potentially lead to lost revenue and multiple violations,” said Fred Fakkema, vice president of compliance at Zonar. “Since the mandate passed, we’ve listened to our customers and heard from decision makers across the industry; with this easy to follow checklist, Zonar aims to help those who need guidance regarding the transition within a shorter amount of time.”

Businesses can find the downloadable guide here.

This includes:

  • A workback calendar from August-December in checklist form
  • Questions fleet managers should ask vendors before signing a contract
  • Tips for training operators on new solutions

“With almost 20 years of experience helping fleets intelligently manage their business, Zonar creates technology solutions that collect and analyze data from a wide variety of vehicles including trucks, school buses, transit vehicles and construction equipment,” Fakkema said. “This information empowers drivers and fleet managers with the data and analysis needed to better navigate any route and safely manage passengers and cargo.”

ELDs were mandate by Congress to help the commercial transportation industry increase safety for all drivers on the road through in-vehicle technology to easily log data such as hours of service.

Zonar was founded in 2001 to help fleets of all sizes maximize the use of their assets with solutions dedicated to improving compliance, efficiency, maintenance, ridership visibility, safety and tracking, Fakkema said.

 

 

 

 

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