Daimler Trucks begins testing automated trucks on public roads

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Daimler Trucks and Torc Robotics are actively developing and testing automated trucks with SAE Level 4 intent technology on public roads. The initial routes are on highways in southwest Virginia, where Torc Robotics is headquartered. All automated runs require both an engineer overseeing the system and a highly trained safety driver certified by Daimler Trucks and Torc Robotics. All safety drivers hold a commercial driver’s licence and are specially trained in vehicle dynamics and automated systems.

The deployment on public roads takes place after months of extensive testing and safety validation on a closed loop track. As part of the comprehensive safety process by Daimler Trucks and Torc Robotics, both test track and on-road validation play an integral role in establishing the essential building blocks for successfully advancing automated technology.

“Torc Robotics is a leader in automated driving technology,” said Martin Daum, member of the board of management of Daimler AG, responsible for Trucks & Buses. “Daimler Trucks is the market 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.”

Based in the US, Torc is now part of Daimler Trucks. Authorities approved the majority stake acquisition by the truck manufacturer and Torc Robotics is now a part of the newly established Autonomous Technology Group of Daimler Trucks. The truck manufacturer is consolidating all its expertise and activities in automated driving into the global organisation with locations in Blacksburg and Portland in the US as well as in Stuttgart, Germany.

“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 commercialisation of Level 4 trucks to bring this technology to the market because we strongly believe it can save lives.”

Torc is one of the world’s most experienced companies in the field of automated driving – with highly sophisticated, roadworthy technology and years of expertise 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.

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 perfectly suited for highly automated driving, particularly the 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. We look forward to writing history together. The US highways are the perfect place to develop automated driving technology,” said Roger Nielsen, president and CEO of Daimler Trucks North America LLC.

Within the Autonomous Technology Group, DTNA is also building an infrastructure required for the operational testing of initial application cases. This consists of a main control centre and logistics hubs. These hubs are located along high-density freight corridors where many customers operate and within close proximity of interstates and highways.