Torc Robotics today celebrated both the 10-year anniversary of its third-place win in the historic 2007 Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Urban Challenge and the strength of its team. The competition launched Torc’s success in autonomous vehicle technology in mining and defense – and now self-driving cars.
“Most of the engineers on the DARPA team Victor Tango are still part of the Torc team today and are doing great work,” said Torc CEO Michael Fleming. “We were a winning team 10 years ago, and continue to build on that strength.”
Torc entered the competition in partnership with Virginia Tech as Team Victor Tango. Their autonomous Ford Escape, named Odin, was one of three winning vehicles that finished the course within the six-hour time limit. Challenge vehicles were completely unmanned and navigated complex scenarios including roadblocks, roundabouts, parking lots, and other vehicles.
At today’s celebration, Virginia Tech mechanical engineering professor Al Wicks presented Torc with Odin’s autographed hood. Wicks was an advisor to Team Victor Tango and continues to foster the university-Torc partnership by working with the AutoDrive Challenge team.
“The relationship between Virginia Tech and Torc offers a model for others to follow,” said Wicks. “Technology firms benefit from ongoing research, and student engineers benefit from real-world experience. You need both for success, and it’s been an honor watching the technology evolve into the robust, experienced system it is today.”
On display at the anniversary celebration were a handful of vehicles retrofitted with Torc’s autonomous system. They ranged from Caterpillar construction vehicles to large mining trucks and Torc’s latest self-driving consumer car, which will be giving ride along demonstrations on public roads in Las Vegas at CES 2018.
“While the application of our system may differ per vehicle and industry, the technology is very much the same,” said Fleming. “We’re really looking forward to giving consumers a first-hand look at CES and helping them build trust with self-driving cars.”
Fleming emphasized that bringing self-driving cars to the consumer market will have a profound impact on society and must follow time-proven engineering processes.
About Torc Robotics
Torc Robotics, headquartered in Blacksburg, Virginia, provides end-to-end self-driving solutions across multiple industries, including automotive, mining, and defense. Founded in 2005, Torc has integrated its components and systems on ground vehicles ranging from consumer SUVs to 300-ton mining trucks—in safety-critical environments. Torc first gained notice when it developed the self-driving software stack for Virginia Tech in the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge. As one of three winners of the DARPA Urban Challenge, Torc has commercialized this technology through partnerships with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and their Tier 1 suppliers.