September 2020 marks the one-year anniversary of Daimler Trucks’ acquisition of Torc Robotics making it part of the company’s Autonomous Technology Group. The engineering teams of both Daimler and Torc say they have, since the merger, been collaboratively pursuing a common goal of bringing series-produced highly automated trucks (SAE Level 4) to the roads within the decade. This includes on-road deployment of a Level 4 test fleet, initiation of redesign of truck chassis, adoption of a hub-to-hub model, formalized rigorous testing protocols, formal truck safety driver certification process, and extended software capabilities.
Now, the group has announced it will extend its testing activities to New Mexico with the construction of a new testing center in Albuquerque, stating that expanding to a new location will support testing due to begin later this year. In February 2020, it revealed plans to expand testing to additional locations, adding new public routes in the USA, but the project was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
During the enforced break due to the pandemic, the group focused on its simulation program, before public road testing resumed in Virginia in June 2020. According to Daimler, its team based in Oregon will focus on the development of vehicle safety systems, with a goal of refining a truck chassis suited for highly automated driving and including the redundancy of systems needed to achieve safe, reliable operation.
“While we have tested our system in New Mexico with other vehicles, we are very happy to be opening a test center for an ongoing self-driving trucks program,” said Michael Fleming, CEO of Torc Robotics. “New Mexico offers a unique environment for testing, along a major long-haul trucking corridor that is critical to a large percentage of commercial freight activities.”