Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Loadsmart and Starsky pilot autonomous trucking

Steve Rogerson
August 21, 2019



New York logistics company Loadsmart and Starsky Robotics have automatically dispatched an autonomous lorry to haul freight. This involved pricing, tendering and booking via Loadsmart and then picking up and delivering the shipment using Starsky's self-driving technology.
 
The integration of Loadsmart's AI-powered pricing and load matching technology with California-based Starsky's API meant no human intervention was required. The initiative is part of a larger strategic partnership that paves the way for the future of trucking – autonomous brokerages dispatching freight to autonomous lorries without human involvement.
 
Trucking is the backbone of the American economy, moving 70 per cent of all freight. However, because of the ATA estimated 60,000 driver shortage, many trucking companies are struggling to find drivers to keep up with demand. Automating the traditional freight flow could help them achieve the scale.
 
Loadsmart was able to connect its network of customers with Starsky's fleet of regular and self-driving lorries by integrating Loadsmart's automated dispatch API with Starsky's Hutch API. As a result, Starsky is able to dispatch its lorries automatically without human intervention, while Loadsmart can expand its ability to automate the shipping process from quoting, 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, we will be able to autonomously dispatch autonomous loads on a regular basis."
 
Loadsmart is a digital freight broker that specialises in full truckload shipping. It uses data and machine learning to build artificial intelligence processes into the complex freight brokerage cycle, allowing shippers to book a truckload in seconds and providing instant and targeted loads to carriers.
 
"Autonomous vehicles play an integral role in our vision of delivering end-to-end automated shipping and logistics services,” said Ricardo Salgado, CEO of Loadsmart. “Starsky is one of the leading developers of autonomous trucking technology and, given our belief that autonomous trucks will provide great value, the team will help us be at the forefront of providing our clients with access to cutting edge technology so they can advance their supply chain."
 
Starsky Robotics is an autonomous truck start-up that aims to make roads safer and allow lorry drivers to work closer to home. It began moving freight on the highway in early 2017, and one year later became the first company to take the safety driver out of a lorry when it drove fully unmanned for 11km on a closed road in Florida. In June 2019, Starsky did the first ever fully unmanned test on a public highway with live traffic.
 
"At Starsky, we're building a trucking company to support and enable our autonomous trucks,” said Paul Schlegel, director of trucking operations at Starsky Robotics. “In my 33-year career in trucking, I've had to build out large infrastructure in planning and inside sales organisations to be able to get proper utilisation for our drivers and trucks. By partnering with Loadsmart, we've been able to let our driver managers spend more time making sure drivers are happy and they spend significantly less time negotiating with brokers."
 
Hunter Yaw, vice president of of product at Loadsmart, added: "Our ability to connect shipper demand with autonomous capacity will turn the industry on its head. Knowing when and where a truck is available and where it wants to go will automatically trigger our TMS integration to price and book the best load for that specific truck. We are moving from a load-to-truck world to a truck-to-load one. Carriers will benefit from this feature by keeping their trucks full days in advance."