Torc Robotics Shows off its Tech With a Cross-Country Self-Driving Trip
Torc Robotics last week announced its development of a complete self-driving system for consumer automobiles. To show off the company’s technology, Torc Robotics just completed a six-day 2,500-mile cross-country trip with its autonomous Lexus SUV.
BLACKSBURG, VA – Last week, Torc Robotics announced its development of a complete self-driving system for consumer automobiles. To show off their technology, Torc Robotics completed a six-day 2,500-mile cross-country trip with its autonomous Lexus SUV which arrived in Seattle, Washington on Thursday, July 13th.
The company's self-driving Lexus RX is the first certified autonomous vehicle pilot test in Washington since the state's Governor Jay Inslee signed the executive order last month allowing self-driving car testing in the state. Torc was the very first company that registered with the state's new Autonomous Vehicle Pilot Program permit to test its self-driving car in Washington. The company hopes to offer its technology to other automotive companies.
"We're offering automotive companies a fully autonomous solution that can be implemented in real consumer cars," said Torc co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Michael Fleming. "We'll also work with them to implement the technology into existing systems."
Michael Fleming, CEO and co-founder of Torc Robotics
Fleming emphasized that Torc is a Level 4 company, referring to SAE's levels of automated driving. All efforts and testing are geared toward refining this level of high automation, in which human drivers and intervention are not required when the vehicle operates in specific driving situations. Using Torc's end-to-end software stack and decade of multi-industry experience, the self-driving technology allows cars to make complex decisions in real-life situations.
Ten Years in the Making
Torc Robotics, headquartered in Blacksburg, Virginia, provides unmanned and autonomous vehicle solutions for multiple industries, including defense, agriculture and automotive. Founded in 2005, Torc first gained notice when its vehicle was one of the three winners of the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge. While many members of the winning teams joined Google's autonomous driving project, Torc retained much of its talent.
Since then, the Torc team grew tremendously in size and continued developing the technology— applying it to a wide variety of commercial ground vehicles, from large mining trucks to military vehicles.
"We are passionate about autonomous technology and are convinced it will help make our world safer and more sustainable," Fleming said. "We've been working on our technology for more than 10 years and we are thrilled that the auto industry is finally ready for self-driving cars. Torc can provide the engineering expertise and proven technology to make self-driving cars a reality."
Extensive Self-Driving Test Experience
The company implemented its technology on two Lexus RX vehicles. After extensive testing, the cars have been operating in a variety of weather conditions on public roads since February 2017. The system includes Torc's own solutions for localization, real-time navigation, mapping, and obstacle detecting and tracking.
This past April, one of Torc's vehicles demonstrated another long-distance drive, logging more than 1,000 autonomous miles during a round trip from Torc's headquarters in Blacksburg, Virginia, to the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant in Detroit, which happens to be the birthplace of the Model T.
"The automotive industry is challenged with determining what claims are hype, versus what will create real value for car manufacturers and their customers," Fleming said. "We've got proven technology under the hood and offer it via a partnership model. Collaboration is essential for success in the transportation revolution."
Torc's End to End Advantage
According to Torc Chief Technology Officer Ben Hastings, the Torc team's advantage is its tested ability to tackle the multidisciplinary systems engineering effort required to develop fully self-driving cars.
"While a lot of startups may have interesting pieces of technology, we have a decade of experience delivering an end-to-end solution that actually works. This includes multimodal sensor fusion (vision, Radar, and LiDAR), and the use of both traditional autonomy algorithms coupled with newer machine learning techniques," Hastings said.
Torc plans to continue refining its technology over the year with continual testing and development of its system. Fleming said he is optimistic about the rapid progress of the project going forward.
"I'm excited about this year," he said. "We will have some major announcements to showcase to the public."
July 28th, 2017 News of the Day: Bollinger Reveals Rugged Electric Truck, BMW Crossover to Have Level 3 Autonomy, Intel Forecasts Growth