Industry News

Daimler subsidiary launches Autonomous Advisory Council

Torc Robotics in partnership with major US logistics companies, has launched an Autonomous Advisory Council in North America.

An independent subsidiary of Daimler Truck, Torc is cooperating with the likes of Schneider, Covenant Logistics, Penske Truck Leasing, Ryder System, Inc, CH Robinson and Baton to further develop the real-world applications for autonomous trucking.

To that end, Torc has established the Torc Autonomous Advisory Council (TAAC) with these key freight industry players to incorporate deep industry insights into its development process.

Daimler Truck North America as OEM partner will provide strategic guidance to Torc as they integrate with the freight network and tackle challenges beyond highway driving.

With customer co-creation, Torc enters what is considered the next stage of development, focusing even more sharply on specific customer requirements and concrete business models.

Daimler Truck and Torc are committed to making autonomous trucking a reality and commercialising the technology within the decade.

Daimler Truck CEO, Martin Daum, foresees an opportunity to increase its service revenue, in addition to promoting significant market and growth potential.

“We are fully committed to autonomous trucking as it can benefit everyone. It will increase safety, because systems do not get tired and do not lose attention,” he said in a statement.

“It will boost logistics performance by enabling trucks to run more. It will help society cope with the growing volume of freight, particularly in times of severe driver shortages.”

Daimler Truck and Torc claim to have the longest autonomous driver technology and truck OEM partnership in the industry and have been testing a fleet of autonomous trucks on public roads in the US on a daily basis.

Since acquiring a majority stake in Torc three years ago, Daimler Truck has made significant progress in turning autonomous trucks from an idea into reality.

Typical driving scenarios such as lane changes and complex merges have been tested intensively and have proven that Torc’s autonomous driving software can safely navigate on highways.

More recently, Torc expanded its testing and is now demonstrating L4 autonomous trucks with enhanced capabilities in more complex scenarios.

Autonomous truck testing in the US has expanded to include surface streets, ramps and turns at controlled intersections through state-of-the-art LiDAR, radar and camera technology.

These capabilities are essential for the planned deployment in the hub-to-hub use case.

In this application, drivers deliver goods in conventional trucks over the first mile to transfer hubs along highways in key US freight corridors.

From there, the trailer is coupled with a purpose built L4 autonomous truck that safely navigates long stretches of highways by driving autonomously from hub-to-hub.

Once the L4 truck reaches the destination hub, the last-mile distribution will continue via manually driven trucks.

Factors such as long, open stretches of highway, increasing demand for freight movement, large fleets and forward-looking regulators make the US the ideal proving ground to deploy this new technology first.

As a next step, Torc is now involving leading logistic companies to specifically develop the real-world use case of the autonomous logistic system of the future.

In the past few years, engineers at Daimler Truck North America have successfully developed the first scalable autonomous truck platform with critical safety systems.

Based on Freightliner’s industry-leading flagship truck, the Class 8 autonomous-ready Cascadia with redundant functions enables the deployment of autonomous trucking.

This truck has been designed and developed with a second set of critical systems, such as steering and braking to meet Daimler Truck’s uncompromising safety standards.

The vehicle continuously monitors and assesses the health of these systems.

In case of interruption or errors, the newly developed redundant systems will be able to safely control the truck.

The L4 autonomous-ready Freightliner Cascadia offers a strong foundation for the smart autonomous driving system being ideal for the integration of autonomous software, hardware and computer.

Given its redundancy of systems, the autonomous truck can contribute to enhancing safety in traffic and brings Daimler Truck that much closer to its vision of what it refers to as accident-free driving.

“With Torc’s experience in commercialising autonomous vehicle solutions and Daimler Truck’s strong customer relationships in the freight industry, we’ve formed a powerhouse team to develop Level 4 technology for long-haul applications,” said Michael Fleming, Torc Founder and CEO.

“The cooperation with our partners from the logistics industry creates numerous opportunities to co-develop concepts and facilities, and conduct research and development for Class 8 autonomous trucks, hub-to-hub operations, fleet operations, and fleet maintenance services.”

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