Daimler Trucks has bought a majority stake in Torc Robotics, a Blacksburg (Va) based technology company with promising expertise in automated transport solutions, for an undisclosed price. In addition to a feature-rich software platform for driving automation, Torc also offers technology for the automation of other safety-critical areas, including mining, agriculture and defense. Daimler Trucks and Torc have signed a contract that leaves Torc as an independent company, but gives Daimler extensive access to Torc's technology.
With this technology, Daimler Trucks will soon be launching trucks that allow automated driving according to SAE Level 4. This means that the vehicles are still equipped with all control elements such as brake and steering wheel, but can drive autonomously, even over long distances and at all speeds. Automation level 3, which is currently going into production in the passenger car sector, will be skipped for trucks, said a Daimler spokesman. "We skip the intermediate step of conditionally automated driving, since the higher costs for the technologies required for this are not matched by any corresponding real-world benefits. In the transportation industry, Level 4 is the next natural step after Level 2," the spokesman explained.