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Torc Robotics to scale self-driving fleet with Daimler test trucks

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David Sickels is the Associate Editor of Tire Review and Fleet Equipment magazines. He has a history of working in the media, marketing and automotive industries in both print and online.

Torc Robotics announced that it will scale its self-driving truck testing in the southwest in early 2021 using an enhanced prototype truck developed with Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA).

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This new generation of Freightliner Cascadia test trucks bolsters Torc’s capability to develop and test its Level 4 self-driving technology, Torc says.

The test trucks are the second iteration of trucks jointly developed by the trucking and technology companies.

Torc and Daimler Trucks’ ultimate goal, the companies say, is to reinvent the truck by co-developing a Level 4 Freightliner Cascadia which includes redundancy components and the seamless integration of additional computes and hardware required for self-driving technology. The partners say they are developing software and hardware that is seamlessly integrated to handle failures of safety-critical vehicle components, such as braking, steering, power distribution and messaging.

Torc says that the team’s vision for a Level 4 vehicle platform is one in which component redundancies and software behaviors work together. In the case of a brake failure in a Level 4 truck, redundancies would maintain the vehicle’s ability to decelerate and stop without human intervention. Torc’s self-driving software would then be able to maneuver to a safe location so a support crew could service the brake system, the company says. Another behavior the team is working to replicate is the way experienced truck drivers are able to feel component failures.

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Torc and DTNA expect to develop multiple iterative test truck models before they release a self-driving truck for commercial customers. The prototypes will incorporate many lessons learned from testing and development since the partners started working together in 2019. The upgrades included in the ‘Gen 2’ prototype truck are specifically designed to bolster the testing effort and accelerate data collection to assist in machine learning and algorithmic development.

Both companies say they have stated that they will only deploy self-driving trucks when they are safe and reliable, not by a set date.

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