Daimler Trucks Buys Stake in Torc Robotics to Develop Self-Driving Truck Technology
【Summary】Daimler Trucks, a division in the Daimler AG, has purchased a majority stake in Torc Robotics, a Virginia company developing autonomous technology for the commercialization of level 4 self-driving trucks in the U.S.
Daimler Trucks, a division in the Daimler AG, has purchased a majority stake in Torc Robotics, a Virginia company developing autonomous technology for the commercialization of level 4 self-driving trucks in the U.S.
The two companies signed an agreement today for Daimler AG's subsidiary Daimler Trucks and Buses Holding Inc., to acquire the majority stake in Torc Robotics. The price was not disclosed and the transaction is subject to approval from U.S. authorities.
The Torc team will work closely with the Research & Development team of Daimler Trucks North America in Portland, Oregon.
"Torc is not a start-up, but one of the world's most experienced companies for vehicle automation. Torc takes a practical approach to commercialization and offers advanced, road-ready technology, plus years of experience in heavy vehicles. Torc's Level 4 system has been shown to operate well for both urban and highway driving in rain, snow, fog, and sunshine," said Roger Nielsen, CEO of Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA).
Torc will continue to develop and test its own Asimov Level-4 self-driving software at its Blacksburg, VA facility. While Daimler Trucks will focus on its automated driving technology and vehicle integration for heavy-duty trucks at its Automated Truck Research & Development Center in Portland.
The DTNA team will focus on developing a truck chassis for automated driving, mainly by adding redundant hardware systems and sensors to offer the maximum level of reliability and safety for commercial use.
"With the ever rising demand for road transportation, not the least through e-commerce, there is a strong business case for self-driving trucks in the U.S. market and I believe the fastest path to commercialization for self-driving trucks is in partnership with Daimler Trucks, the OEM market leader. This move is in line with our mission of saving lives and represents another major milestone for Torc since crossing the finish line in the DARPA Urban Challenge 12 years ago," said Michael Fleming, CEO of Torc.
Under the agreement, Torc will remain a separate entity retaining its name, team, existing customers, and facilities in Blacksburg, VA. The partnership with Daimler Trucks will enable Torc to expand significantly its team.
Daimler Trucks is a pioneer of autonomous trucks. In 2014, the division demonstrated the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025, the world's first automated truck. The demo took place on a closed-off section of the Autobahn near Magdeburg, Germany.
Daimler Trucks is the first to bring partially automated driving features (SAE level 2) into series production. The new system can independently brake, accelerate and steer. Unlike systems that only work above a certain speed, the system allows partially automated driving in all speed ranges for the driver. The autonomous technology is supported by fusing together data from cameras and radar.
Torc Robotics was founded in 2005 by a group of Virginia Tech students who built three autonomous cars to compete in the AUVSI Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition. The students placed first, second, and third in the competition, which led them to found the company.
Torc Robotics offers a complete autonomous software solution for self-driving cars and transit vehicles by working with partners in automotive, transit and technology. Torc also provides self-driving technology in safety-critical applications, including defense, mining, and agriculture. Torc has integrated its self-driving technology on wide variety of vehicles from passenger vehicles to 300-ton mining trucks.
Like many other startups working on autonomous driving, Torc Robotics outfits vehicles with radar, cameras, and LiDAR. The system utilizes radar chips, including the NXP TEF810x and MPC577xK chips to "boost its perception capabilities." The company utilizes deep learning to detect and classify other vehicles and pedestrains to help predict their movements.
Torc has tested its autonomous driving capabilities in more than 20 states. In July 2017, Torc completed a coast-to-coast trip across the U.S. from Virginia to Seattle with one of its self-driving vehicles.
Torc's other partnerships include construction machinery company Caterpillar to develop autonomous mining and agriculture applications. In January, Torc and French transportation company Transdev announced a partnership integrating Level 4 self-driving technology in commuter shuttles for a commercial service later this year.
resource from: Daimler
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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