Daimler Truck and Torc Robotics are in their third year of partnership, and are working toward commercialization of the first scalable, profitable Level 4 autonomous truck.
This past year, Torc expanded on-road testing, and is currently testing the Level 4 trucks on public roads in Virginia, New Mexico, and Texas, with continued route expansion in the works.
Meanwhile, Portland-based Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) is refining a truck chassis, a Freightliner Cascadia, to integrate seamlessly with autonomous vehicle systems, adding redundancies for safety-critical components like steering, braking, and powernet, Daimler officials said in a press release. The Torc team continues developing software, testing, and systems integration.
“We are concentrating on one OEM truck platform (Daimler Trucks North America’s Freightliner Cas-cadia), one business case (long-haul trucking), and one environment (U.S. interstate highways),” ex-plained Torc CEO Michael Fleming. “Commercializing self-driving trucks is a very complex endeavor and we are first solving the least complex use case, then expanding our product reach as the technical capabilities are proven.”
He added: “I am absolutely convinced that Torc will be the first company to a profitable scalable product in the autonomous truck space. We move to the next level of complexity when we have proven our program.”
Daimler Truck and Torc formed the first strategic alliance between an autonomous vehicle technology firm and a truck original equipment manufacturer when Daimler invested in a majority share in Torc in August 2019, Daimler officials said.
Torc operates as an independent subsidiary and serves as the lead for autonomous system development, innovation, and testing with Daimler Truck’s internal self-driving truck efforts.
“To develop a safe autonomous level 4 truck remains a complex task and resembles a marathon, not a sprint,” said Peter Vaughan Schmidt, head of Daimler Truck’s Autonomous Technology Group. “Two years together with Torc Robotics, we have accomplished a lot, collaboratively pursuing a common goal of leading the logistics sector into the future and making road traffic safer for society. I am convinced that we are optimally positioned as a company and together with Torc we have the right partner at our side to achieve our goals.”
Torc has been growing since partnering with Daimler Truck and has more than doubled its workforce. Torc has also added power players to its leadership team, with the addition of NASA safety expert John Marinaro as director of operational safety and testing, veteran tech strategist Eddie Amos as chief transformation officer, and technology marketer Jane Bai-ley as vice president of marketing and communications.