Daimler Trucks and Torc Robotics are actively developing and testing automated trucks with SAE Level 4 intent technology on public roads, the companies have announced.
Initial testing routes are on highways in southwest Virginia where Torc Robotics, an autonomous technology developer that Daimler acquired earlier this year, is headquartered. All of these test runs require both an engineer overseeing the system and a certified safety drive with a commercial driver’s license who has been trained in vehicle dynamics and automated systems.
Prior to deploying the technology on public roads, the companies spent months of testing and safety validation on a closed loop track.
“Daimler Trucks is the market leader in trucks and we understand the needs of the industry,” said Martin Daum, member of the board of management at Daimler AG, responsible for Trucks and Buses. “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.”
According to SAE International Level 4 is only one step down from a completely autonomous, Level 5 vehicle – one that requires no driver at any time. By comparison, Level 4 automation, automated driving features can driver the vehicle under limited conditions and will not operate unless all required conditions are met.
Daimler Trucks North America has announced that it is working on a truck chassis that is suited for highly automated driving, with a redundancy of systems needed to provide reliability and safety.
“As we pair Daimler's expertise in building safe and reliable trucks with Torc's genius in engineering Level 4 vehicles, we have no doubt we will do great things in the future,” said Roger Nielsen, president and CEO of DTNA. “We look forward to writing history together. The U.S. highways are the perfect place to develop automated driving technology.”
Torc Robotics is now a part of Daimler’s newly established Autonomous Technology Group. The truck manufacturer 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 is an experienced company in the field of automated driving – with highly sophisticated, roadworthy technology and years of experience with heavy-duty commercial vehicles. Asimov, Torc’s system for automated driving, has been tested in urban and long-distance routes as well as in rain, snow, fog and varying light conditions.
“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.”