Daimler Truck North America, makers of the Freightliner and Western Star brands of heavy trucks, says its Torc Robotics team is ready to move development and testing of autonomous trucks to public roads in Virginia.
Developed by Torc, part of Daimler’s new Autonomous Technology Group, the trucks are equipped with autonomous driving technology that meets SAE’s Level 4 category. According to SAE, a vehicle with Level 4 automation can operate itself and navigate roadways without any need for a human operator to respond or intervene.
The initial testing routes are on highways in southwest Virginia, where Torc is headquartered. Despite the system’s capabilities for nearly full autonomy, these test runs will require both an engineer overseeing the system and a highly trained safety driver certified by Daimler Trucks and Torc. All safety drivers hold a commercial driver’s license 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.
With these test runs, Daimler says it will “focus on further evolving automated driving technology and vehicle integration for heavy-duty trucks.” Specifically, Daimler North America 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,” said DTNA President and CEO Roger Nielsen. “We look forward to writing history together. The U.S. highways are the perfect place to develop automated driving technology.”
Daimler calls Torc “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 notes.
“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.”