Daimler Trucks tests automated trucks on the open road

Daimler working with subsidiary Torc Robotics to deploy Level 4 automated trucks on public roads in Virginia

[Credit: PRNewsfoto/Daimler Trucks North America LLC]

Daimler Trucks and Torc Robotics are actively developing and testing automated trucks with SAE Level 4 intent technology on public roads. Level automation is one step below full automation and means the trucks can drive themselves within defined areas, although always with close supervision of a driver. The initial routes are on highways in southwest Virginia, where Torc Robotics is headquartered.

The deployment on public roads 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. All safety drivers hold a commercial driver's license and are specially trained in vehicle dynamics and automated systems.

Martin Daum, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Trucks & Buses: "Torc Robotics is a leader in automated driving technology. 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."

Torc Robotics hoping to boost efforts

Based in the U.S., Torc is now part of Daimler Trucks, following the latter acquiring a majority stake acquisition. 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 organization with locations in Blacksburg and Portland in the U.S. 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 commercialization of Level 4 trucks to bring this technology to the market because we strongly believe it can save lives."

"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’s consolidated autonomous unit also developing redundant vehicle chassis and infrastructure

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 suited for highly automated driving, particularly system redundancy.

Roger Nielsen, president and CEO of Daimler Trucks North America LLC: "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 U.S. highways are the perfect place to develop automated driving technology."

Within the Autonomous Technology Group, DTNA is also building the 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 with close proximity to interstates and highways.

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