Daimler driverless trucks begin public road testing

By Lucy Ingham

Daimler has announced that its driverless trucks are to begin testing on public roads in Virginia, the US.

The driverless trucks, which have been developed by Daimler Trucks in partnership with Torc Robotics, are level 4 autonomous vehicles, meaning they can operate autonomously but require humans to be present to oversee all tests.

The trials, which are being held near Torc Robotics’ headquarters, will see an engineer and a certified safety driver present at all times.

While this is the first time the trucks have been tested on public roads, they have undergone significant testing on a closed-loop test track over the last few months.

Daimler driverless trucks bring autonomous haulage closer

The Daimler driverless trucks are being developed with the eventual goal of enabling such haulage vehicles to operate completely autonomously across the US.

“Daimler Trucks is the market leader in trucks and we understand the needs of the industry,” said Martin Daum, Daimler member of the board of management.

“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.”

The company’s partnership with Torc has been particularly key to this goal, with Daum describing it as “a leader in automated driving technology”.

Torc has developed a system for autonomous driving known as Asimov, which has already undergone significant testing in a variety of weather conditions, including, fog, rain and snow.

“Being part of Daimler Trucks is the start of a new chapter for Torc,” said Michael Fleming, CEO of Torc Robotics.

“Our whole team is thrilled to be working alongside our Daimler colleagues as we pursue the commercialisation of Level 4 trucks to bring this technology to the market because we strongly believe it can save lives.”

While Daimler hopes its driverless trucks will become leaders in the space, it is not the only company looking to disrupt the trucking industry.

Uber is also challenging in this space through its driverless truck company Otto, which it acquired in 2016.

Read more: Highways England driverless trucks show “rapid progression” of self-driving vehicles