Ike believes self-driving trucks can help solve challenges plaguing trucking industry
A self-driving truck startup called Ike has announced that it has raised $52 million in Series A financing.
Ike notes that a number of factors such as a shortage of drivers, new regulations, growing accident rates, and the rise of ecommerce are having a major impact on the trucking industry, but the company believes that self-driving trucks can help solve these challenges.
“We came together over a passion for trucking, and created Ike with a mission to make trucks safer, truckers more valuable, and trucking more efficient,” Ike says in a company blog post.
Having spent a lot of time with truckers, manufacturers and component suppliers, fleet operators, shippers, highway patrol officers and labor experts, Ike says that it has learned that in order to succeed, it needs to build technology that the trucking industry wants to use.
“Technology that helps truck drivers, not replaces them,” the company points out.
Ike says that by focusing its product on highway operation, it believes that it can build a self-driving truck that creates more and better truck driving jobs, which will free drivers up to sleep in their own beds at night and use their skills and expertise “where it matters.”
Ike notes that it believes that creating a self-driving truck is a systems problem, instead of a software problem that is often talked about.
“It’s about computer vision and deep learning, but it’s also about wire harnesses, alternators, and steering columns,” the company explains. “It’s about durable sensors, well crafted regulations, and a clear approach to validation. Ike has systems engineering at its core.”
The company says that its technical development is based on “rigorous requirements” that it tests against every day, adding that this development process will allow it to build a product that works at scale.
“It takes a little longer to get that right at the beginning, but we think it’s the only way that will really work,” Ike says.
Another important lesson that Ike says that it has learned thus far is that in order to solve a tough problem, a team needs to include people with different experiences and backgrounds. With that in mind, Ike’s team includes engineers who have worked on a variety of self-driving vehicle teams, as well as people who have built buses, surgical devices, spacecraft, and solar panels.
The team also includes those that have actually driven trucks.
“We want to be the most diverse and inclusive team in the world. We’re actively seeking out engineers with different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives — no autonomous vehicle experience required,” Ike says.