RICHMOND, VA—After driving itself through 20 states on its maiden cross-country road trip, the Torc self-driving car gave a test ride to Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson as they welcomed it home.
“I want to congratulate Torc on accomplishing this incredible feat,” said Governor McAuliffe. “I am proud to see a home-grown engineering firm develop self-driving technology and introduce it to the rest of the country on a coast-to-coast drive. Entrepreneurial companies like Torc are critical to building the new Virginia economy and creating jobs of the 21st century.”
Torc, headquartered in Blacksburg, Va., began as a spin-off company from Virginia Tech. During the past 10 years, the firm developed a strong reputation for autonomous technology with defense and mining applications. The firm unveiled its self-driving car technology earlier this month.
Soon after, the car and its test team began its round-trip cross-country journey in Washington, D.C., crossing 13 states on its westward drive. They arrived on July 12 in Seattle, Washington, and were greeted by Governor Jay Inslee’s office. Torc was congratulated for being the first company to register in Washington state’s newly created Autonomous Vehicle Pilot Program.
For its eastward trip home, the car took a more southern route and drove autonomously through seven additional states. The trip, with more than 4,300 autonomous miles, officially ended today just steps away from the Virginia Executive Mansion.
“Torc’s accomplishment is a shining testament to the quality of innovation occurring everyday here in the Commonwealth,” said Secretary Jackson. “Virginia has a wide array of autonomy related assets, that uniquely positions us to support the creation and growth of companies like Torc and to help them achieve their highest potential.”
Torc first established itself as a leader in autonomous vehicles in 2007, when its vehicle placed third in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Urban Challenge. For the past decade, Torc has continuously improved upon its technology—successfully applying it to a variety of commercial ground vehicles, from large mining trucks to military vehicles.
“Driving out to Seattle and back was an important testing milestone,” said Torc CEO Michael Fleming. “And finishing the trip here in Virginia with the Governor and Secretary of Technology is the best homecoming, especially on the 10-year anniversary of the DARPA Urban Challenge,” he said.
“We’re fortunate to be headquartered in an autonomous car-friendly state that supports our mission. It’s allowed us to create a winning team of engineers” said Fleming. “We’ll be announcing more impressive demonstrations, capabilities, and partnerships in the coming year.”
About Torc Robotics
Torc Robotics, headquartered in Blacksburg, Virginia, provides unmanned and autonomous vehicle solutions for multiple industries, including defense, agriculture, automotive, and mining. Founded in 2005, Torc has integrated its components and systems on ground vehicles ranging from two-ton SUVs to 300-ton mining trucks—in safety-critical environments. Torc first gained notice when its vehicle was one of the three winners of the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge. The firm also made history in 2011 when it developed a vehicle with Virginia Tech that enabled a blind person to independently drive on the Daytona International Speedway, as part of the National Federation of the Blind’s Blind Driver Challenge.