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.

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

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MOUNT GILEAD, Ohio — Hot Shot’s Secret, manufacturer of a full line of performance fuel and oil additives for fleet and high-performance race vehicles, now provides a full synthetic 15W-40 engine oil in their Green Diamond Fleet line of diesel oils.

Recommended for most diesel applications, the 100% purely synthetic engine oil is infused with Hot Shot’s Secret FR3 Nano Technology and a CK-4 additive package.

Developed specifically for severe duty fleets hauling heavy loads, stop and go deliveries, or operations where there are high level of airborne particulates, Green Diamond Fleet Engine Oil keeps the injectors, turbo and engine cleaner and provides lubrication for optimum long-lasting protection, according to Eric Trimble, Lubrication Specialties Inc. marketing coordinator.

Trimble said Green Diamond Fleet is a pure 100% synthetic engine oil composed of Group III base oils infused with Hot Shot’s Secret’s highly effective FR3 Nano Technology for improved protection.

“This unique blend provides exceptional cleaning, oxidation and thermal stability to prevent the accumulation of deposits, and oil breakdown,” Trimble said. “Shearing and friction is reduced, film strength is preserved and oil stays cleaner longer. With use, fleets can benefit from longer drain intervals, and improved mileage and horsepower.”

This fleet oil additive package, CK-4, not only meets the strict requirements from Ford for added wear protection as stated in Ford Specification WSS-M2C171-F1, in comparison to most CJ-4 spec oils, Green Diamond Fleet lowers oil consumption 78%, reduces wear 71% less than typical CJ-4 spec oils and reduces soot 46% over CJ-4. Tests have proven an increase of up to 3% in fuel economy, Trimble said.

Hot Shot’s Secret Green Diamond Fleet engine oil is available as a 5W – 40 or 15W – 40 blend, in either a 1 gallon or 5 gallon container. Green Diamond Fleet is recommended for use every 6,000 miles and can be used for up to 60,000 miles.

For more information about Hot Shot’s Secret, visit www.hotshotsecret.com.  For more information about Lubrication Specialties Inc. visit www.LubricationSpecialties.com. To speak directly with a Hot Shot’s Secret technician, call toll free 800-341-6516.

Green Diamond Fleet Engine Oil was developed specifically for severe duty fleets hauling heavy loads, stop and go deliveries, or operations where there are high level of airborne particulates. (Courtesy: HOT SHOT’S SECRET)

GOTHENBURG, Sweden — This year marks the 60th anniversary since the first Volvo drivers pulled Nils Bohlin´s innovative three-point seat belt over their shoulders in 1959.

Today the seat belt is still seen as the world´s most important traffic safety innovation ever and is estimated to have saved more than 1 million lives.

However, even with these facts in hand, too many truck drivers neglect to use this simple device. “This is clearly a waste of lives,” said Anna Wrige Berling, Volvo Truck’s newly-appointed traffic and product safety director. “The record shows that there would be so many fewer casualties if all drivers used their belts.”

In 1959, the Volvo engineer Nils Bohlin developed the modern three-point seat belt. Although the design was patented, the company decided the patent was to be left open, making it available to all vehicle manufacturers to use for free. This rather unconventional decision was made in the greater interest of public safety, to ensure that everyone, independently of whether they drove a Volvo or not, could be safer in traffic. This decision proved to be very beneficial to the world.

“There is no safety system that comes even close to the seat belt in terms of saving lives, and the three-point safety belt has protected more people in traffic accidents than any other safety device,” Wrige Berling said.

In many parts of the world seat belt usage among heavy truck occupants is unfortunately still far from 100%.

“The Volvo Trucks Safety Report for 2017 showed that half of all truck drivers killed in traffic accidents would have survived if they had been wearing their seat belt,” Wrige Berling said.

So what are the reasons it’s not used? Some truck drivers mistakenly believe that there is no need for a belt in a truck, because of the size of the vehicle.

“The facts are clear: Using the belt is very important also in trucks. For example, in rollover accidents, the belt can help protect the driver from being jammed between the truck and the ground,” Wrige Berling said.

Volvo Trucks has a vision of zero accidents and believes that truck manufacturers, traffic authorities, infrastructure planners, other experts, and drivers around the world need to work together to achieve a safer traffic environment.

“We are sharing our traffic safety findings widely and have offered our knowledge and expertise to universities, research laboratories and partner organizations,” Wrige Berling said. “Whenever traffic safety is discussed, we want to participate. This helps us learn even more about the issues, the potential solutions and how to design the trucks of the future.”

Wrige Berling brings in-depth knowledge of traffic safety issues to her new position. She has extensive experience from working with both active and passive safety issues within the Volvo Group´s product development, advanced engineering and research organizations.

During 2008-2013, she led the Volvo Trucks Accident Research Team, which since 1969 has investigated traffic accidents on site and compiled traffic safety data for use in future product development. She has represented Volvo in external traffic safety forums and has had a prominent role in the communication of Volvo’s safety offering to the transportation industry.

Most recently Wrige Berling has been managing the area of Traffic Situation Management within automated driving at Volvo Trucks. She holds a Master of Science in Engineering Physics from Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Mack Trucks put its superheroes of service to the test in the third installment of the Mack Masters Competition, a biennial event designed to evaluate participants’ knowledge of Mack service systems and procedures.

Team “# Rise For The Anthem” from Bruckner Truck Sales in Shreveport, Louisiana, successfully completed several rounds of competition, including a comprehensive final challenge, to be crowned Mack Masters Champions.

Members of team “#Rise For The Anthem” are Aaron Toomer, Justin Malone, Ted Pfister and Joey Wardrip.

“Not all superheroes wear capes, but our service technicians proudly wear the Mack Bulldog on their uniforms and deliver the expert knowledge and service our customers require,” said Jonathan Randall, Mack Trucks senior vice president, North American sales and marketing. “Congratulations to Aaron, Justin, Joey and Ted from team “#Rise For The Anthem” on taking their commitment to our customer to an even higher level.”

The 2019 Mack Masters Competition kicked off in November 2018 with early rounds of online challenges that tested competitors’ knowledge of Mack’s service procedures and related systems. A record number of entrants participated with about 2,000 individuals on more than 500 teams.

After competing in three rounds of online challenges, 10 teams of finalists were named, each representing one of Mack’s sales and service regions — Central, Northeast, Southeast, Southwest and West for the U.S., plus Canada, Mexico, Peru, Latin America, and for the first time ever an apprentice team of individuals new to their job roles.

The finalists’ knowledge and skills were challenged with five hands-on stations designed to challenge each team with a specific service situation that had to be completed in just 30 minutes. Following the completion of a challenge, teams rotated to the next one until all five were completed.

Other finalist teams were: “Trunnion City Masters” from M&K Truck Centers in Des Plains, Illinois; “Bergey’s Bulldogs” from Bergey’s Truck Centers, Souderton, Pennsylvania; “TranSource Titans” from TranSource Truck & Trailer Centers in Greensboro, North Carolina; “Mobile Fleet Service” from Mobile Fleet Service in Wenatchee, Washington; “Top Dogs” from Lounsbury Truck Centre in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada; “Hermosillo” from Tractoremolques del Noroeste in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico; “Dream Team” from Mack Peru; and “Bulldogs United” from Salfa in Chile. The apprentice team, “Pac Coast One,” was from Pacific Coast Heavy Truck Group in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

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The Mack Masters Competition is organized and conducted by the Mack Trucks Academy, which is responsible for developing and implementing Mack service training and aftermarket support programs.

The academy is accredited by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) for Continuing Automotive Service Education (CASE).

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