Daimler buys Torc Robotics interest for self-driving trucks

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Daimler Trucks has agreed to buy a majority interest in self-driving truck software maker Torc Robotics as part of a broader push to develop autonomous vehicles.

The Mercedes logo is seen for the Daimler annual shareholders ‘ meeting in Berlin, Germany, April 5, 2018. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

Torc, located in Blacksburg, Virginia, will help Daimler to accelerate the development of software by giving the German manufacturer have 120 well-trained employees, Daimler Trucks Chief Executive Martin Daum said.

“You may not have enough expertise in this area. Our achilles heel is the ability to quickly develop software,” Daum said.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Torc Robotics has partnerships to develop self-driving technology with Caterpillar mining and agriculture applications, and competed in the DARPA self-driving vehicles challenge 12 years ago.

The Torc has developed a technology that allows vehicles to work at a high level of automation, known as level 4, with the help of Daimler to accelerate his own plans for the commercialization of self-driving vehicles.

“The Torc Level 4 system has shown that works well for both urban motorway and driving in rain, snow, fog and sun,” said Roger Nielsen CEO of Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA), in which the leading Freightliner brand.

Daimler currently offers a level 2 automation system on the trucks, which can automatically brake, accelerate and steer with the help of radar and camera systems that are partially automated driving possible.

“To the Torc Robotics within the Daimler Trucks family provides a unique and powerful team of innovators to the highly automated trucks on the road,” Daum said.

The Torc will still be carried out on an arms-length basis from Daimler but the Torc team is working closely with Daimler Trucks’ developers, Daimler said.

The Torc will continue with the development of Asimov self-driving software and testing at the Blacksburg facility. At the same time, Daimler Trucks will focus on further development of automated driving technology and vehicle integration for heavy-duty trucks in the Automated Truck Research & Development Center in Portland.

Daimler Trucks also made use of knowledge about sensors and automation of the group of Mercedes-Benz passenger car brand, the car and truck maker said.

Reporting by Edward Taylor; Editing by Thomas Seythal and Mark Potter

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