Photo: Daimler
Daimler Trucks North America CEO, Roger Nielsen (left), shakes hands with Torc CEO, Michael Fleming.

Daimler takes majority stake in Torc Robotics

March 29, 2019
Daimler and Torc Robotics are joining forces in a one-of-a-kind combination to commercialize highly automated trucks (SAE Level 4) on U.S. roads.

Daimler Trucks said it has taken another step toward bringing highly automated trucks to U.S. highways by acquiring a majority stake in Torc Robotics.

 “There is a strong business case for self-driving trucks in the U.S. market and I believe the fastest path to commercialization for self-driving trucks is in partnership with Daimler Trucks,” said Michael Fleming, CEO of Torc. 

At the 2019 CES show, Daimler Trucks CEO Martin Daum announced a plan to bring Level 4 -- or highly automated -- trucks to the United States within a decade. 

One step toward that goal is the model year 2020 Freightliner Cascadia, which will offer Level 2 automated features.

“Torc is not a start-up, but one of the world’s most experienced companies for vehicle automation,” said Roger Nielsen, CEO of Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA). “Torc’s Level 4 system has been shown to operate well for both urban and highway driving in rain, snow, fog, and sunshine.” 

Daum added the Torc deal will create “a sustainable way for our customers to meet the ever-growing freight demand and benefit both the economy and society.” 

Torc Robotics was founded in 2005 and is based in Blacksburg, VA. 

It has demonstrated its offerings in self-driving cars in more than 20 states. In January, Torc and Transdev announced they were partnering on fully autonomous electric shuttles, designed to provide free connections to existing transit options like trains and buses.

The i-Cristal is undergoing testing in France and scheduled for commercial operation later this year. 

In a separate announcement earlier this week, DTNA said third-party telematics service providers can now be integrated Detroit Connect platform on the Freightliner Cascadia.

The third-party services will be factory installed. Detroit Connect includes virtual technician, analytics and remote updates. 

“Integrating the services of third party providers onto our Detroit Connect platform… provides us the ability to expand our capabilities and push the bounds of the connected vehicle experience,” said Jason Krajewski, DTNA’s director of connectivity for Daimler Trucks North America.

Zonar will be the first telematics service provider integrated onto the Detroit Connect platform.

The companies first partnered in 2011 on Detroit Connect Virtual Technician. In 2015, DTNA became a minority investor in Zonar. 

About the Author

Neil Abt

Neil Abt, editorial director at Fleet Owner, is a veteran journalist with over 20 years of reporting experience, including 15 years spent covering the trucking industry. A graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., he began his career covering sports for The Washington Post newspaper, followed by a position in the newsroom of America Online (AOL) and then both reporting and leadership roles at Transport Topics. Abt is based out of Portland, Oregon.

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