Trucking giant testing autonomous big rigs around Southwest Virginia highways
Daimler Trucks has begun testing highly autonomous big rigs on public highways in Southwest Virginia, the industry giant announced Monday.
The news comes after regulators approved Daimler’s acquisition of Torc Robotics, the Blacksburg company that has been developing self-driving technology for over a decade.
Now that Torc is officially part of Daimler, what better place to test the company’s new self-driving trucks than in Torc’s own backyard?
The trucks will be highly autonomous, which is referred to as SAE Level 4 in the robotics industry. Drivers are still present in Daimler’s tests, but they don’t have to be. As long as the proper conditions are met, such as weather and route, the truck is completely capable of driving itself.
Daimler, which is best known for brands like Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner, isn’t the only company putting these kinds of self-driving trucks on the road. But it does mean the region is — once again — poised to serve as an early testing ground for much-anticipated technology.
According to Monday’s release, the trucks were tested on closed tracks for months before moving to public roads. They will have trained safety drivers behind the wheel and an engineer overseeing the system.
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