Daimler takes to road with Torc autonomous tech

North American arm moves to public route testing of SAE Level 4

Daimler takes to road with Torc autonomous tech
An autonomous-test Freightliner being escorted by Torc cars


Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) reports recently purchased Torc Robotics has been put to work swiftly with public road testing of SAE Level 4 Freightliner semis near the tech firm’s West Virginia headquarters.

Level 4 is classed as "high driving automation", where vehicles can automatically intervene to avoid damage to itself or others, though a human can opt to manually override the technology.

The step into the public domain takes place "after months of extensive testing and safety validation on a closed loop track".

"All automated runs require both an engineer overseeing the system and a highly trained safety driver certified by Daimler Trucks and Torc Robotics," DTNA says.

"All safety drivers hold a commercial driver’s license and are specially trained in vehicle dynamics and automated systems."

The move is the next step in progressing and validating the company’s autonomous vehicle initiative.

"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," Daimler AG’s truck and bus operation boss Martin Daum says.

Michael Fleming, CEO of Torc Robotics, which resides in Daimler Truck’s newly established Autonomous Technology Group, emphasises the safety aspect of the effort.

"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," Fleming says.

Read about Daimler’s thinking on the Autonomous Technology Group, here

Torc uses its Asimov automated driving system, which it says has been tested in urban and long-distance routes as well as in rain, snow, fog and varying light conditions.

It is to be coupled with a chassis DTNA is developing precisely for automated driving, "particularly the redundancy of systems needed to provide reliability and safety".

"Within the Autonomous Technology Group (ATG), DTNA is also building an infrastructure required for the operational testing of initial application cases," it says.

"This consists of a main control center and logistics hubs.

"These hubs are located along high density freight corridors where many customers operate and within close proximity of interstates and highways."


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