Daimler & Torc Robotics Begin Testing Autonomous Trucks on Public Roads in the U.S.
Daimler Trucks and Torc Robotics announced they are testing automated trucks with SAE Level 4 autonomous technology on public roads for the first time.
Daimler Trucks, a division of Daimler AG, purchased a majority stake in Virginia-based Torc Robotics in March for an undisclosed sum. Torc is now part of the global development network within the recently established Daimler Trucks Autonomous Technology Group.
Torc is developing autonomous technology alongside Daimler Trucks for the commercialization of level 4 self-driving trucks in the U.S. The initial self-driving routes are on highways in southwest Virginia, near the headquarters of Torc Robotics.
For safety, all automated trips require both an engineer overseeing the system and a highly trained safety driver behind the wheel certified by Daimler Trucks and Torc Robotics. All safety drivers hold a commercial driver's license and are specially trained in vehicle dynamics and automated systems of semi-trucks.
"Being part of Daimler Trucks is the start of a new chapter for Torc," says Michael Fleming, CEO of Torc Robotics. "Our whole team is thrilled to be working alongside our Daimler colleagues as we pursue the commercialization of Level 4 trucks to bring this technology to the market because we strongly believe it can save lives."
Daimler is consolidating all its expertise and activities in automated driving into the global organization with locations in Blacksburg, Virginia and Portland, Oregon in the U.S. as well as in Stuttgart, Germany.
"Torc Robotics is a leader in automated driving technology. Daimler Trucks is the leader in trucks and we understand the needs of the industry. Bringing Level 4 trucks to the public roads is a major step toward our goal to deliver reliable and safe trucks for the benefits of our customers, our economies and society." said Martin Daum, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Trucks & Buses in a statement.
The deployment of the trucks on public roads comes after months of testing and safety validation on a closed loop track. The companies said that the test track and on-road validation play an integral role in establishing the essential building blocks for successfully advancing the autonomous truck technology.
Torc, founded in 2005, is an experienced company in the field of automated driving with years of expertise with heavy-duty commercial vehicles. "Asimov", Torc's system for automated driving, has been proven in urban and long-distance routes as well as in rain, snow, fog and varying light conditions.
Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) will focus on further evolving automated driving technology and vehicle integration for heavy-duty trucks. The DTNA team is working on a truck chassis suitable for highly automated driving, including the redundancy of systems needed to provide the maximum level of reliability and the maximum level of safety. The Torc team in Portland is developing the redundant truck chassis systems.
"As we pair Daimler's best-in-class safest-on-the-road trucks with Torc's genius in engineering Level 4 vehicles, we have no doubt we will do great things in the future. We look forward to writing history together. The U.S. highways are the perfect place to develop automated driving technology.", said Roger Nielsen, president and CEO of Daimler Trucks North America LLC in a statement.
Within the Autonomous Technology Group, Daimler is also building an infrastructure required for the operational testing of its autonomous trucks, including a main control center and logistics hubs. These hubs are located along high density freight corridors where many logistics customers operate and within close proximity of interstates and highways.
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