Daimler Trucks along with Torc Robotics have started to test its self-driving trucks on public roads.
In a press release, the two said the initial routes are on highways located in southwest Virginia where Torc Robotics is based.
All of the automated runs of the self-driving truck will have an engineer and a safety driver certified by Daimler Trucks and Torc Robotics to ensure nothing goes wrong. According to the company, the safety drivers are required to have a commercial driver's license and are trained on vehicle dynamics and automated systems.
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Daimler Trucks, Torc Robotics have been in extensive testing for months
The testing of the self-driving truck is a major milestone for Daimler Trucks and Torc Robotics. The two have been involved in months of extensive testing and safety validation on a closed-loop track.
"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," said Martin Daum Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Trucks & Buses, in the press release. "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."
A self-driving level 4 vehicle is one that can operate without the input or oversight of a human but only in certain conditions. The holy grail is level 5.
Daimler Trucks, Torc to focus on further evolving the technology
With testing beginning, the companies said Daimler Trucks North America and Torc will focus on further evolving self-driving technology and vehicle integration for heavy-duty trucks. They are currently developing a truck chassis that can support automated driving. The group is also working to build the infrastructure necessary to conduct operational testing of initial application cases. To achieve that they are building a main control center and logistics hubs. The hubs are located along high-density freight corridors where customers operate in close proximity to highways and parkways.
"Being part of Daimler Trucks is the start of a new chapter for Torc," said Michael Fleming, CEO of Torc Robotics in the same press release. "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."
UPS has its eyes on self-driving trucks too
Daimler Trucks isn't the only one going after the autonomous truck market. In April, UPS Ventures, the venture capital arm of UPS said it took a minority stake in TuSimple, the self-driving company. The two are testing self-driving tractor-trailers. The idea is for TuSimple to help UPS better understand the requirements for Level 4 Autonomous trucking in its network.