An Introduction to Self-Driving Vehicles and Autonomous Driving Systems

When we talk about self-driving car and truck software, we’re often talking about an autonomous driving system. But what is autonomous driving technology, and what does it mean for the future? 

SAE International defines an autonomous driving system (or “ADS”) as technology that is partially or fully capable of driving autonomously. The advancements made in autonomous vehicles research seek to provide more safety benefits and that, one day, will be able to handle the work of driving entirely. They are also known as “driverless” vehicles because humans aren’t involved — autonomous vehicle technology uses sensors and software to operate, maneuver, and drive. 

In the United States, there are currently only a handful of locales where you can legally operate using completely autonomous vehicle technology. However, partially autonomous vehicles exist — cars and trucks with different levels of self-driving tech, ranging from ordinary automobiles with braking and lane assistance to entirely autonomous, self-driving prototypes. 

Self-driving truck companies are becoming more prevalent, even if the sector is still in its infancy. The autonomous vehicle industry has the potential to change our transportation system and, by extension, our economy and society as a whole.  

Benefits of Autonomous Vehicle Technology 

Economic and Social 

Automated cars have the potential to provide significant economic and societal advantages. According to research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle collisions cost $242 billion in 2010, including $57.6 billion in missed workplace productivity and $594 billion in lost lives and reduced quality of life due to injuries. Autonomous vehicle startups can help eliminate these expenses due to the safety features built into their systems. 

Convenience and Efficiency 

The goal of autonomous vehicles on the road is that they’ll work together to improve traffic flow and minimize congestion. On average, Americans spend nearly seven billion hours stuck in traffic, reducing time at work or with family while raising fuel costs and emissions. The time and money spent commuting would be better spent investing in a self-driving technology company with a clear vision for the future.  


While the full benefits of autonomous driving companies’ impact on society are impossible to predict, the transformational potential of these technologies can be understood by looking at U.S. demographics and the communities these technologies aim to support. Autonomous vehicle technology may provide millions of Americans with new transportation alternatives. There are 49 million people over the age of 65 in the United States today, and a total of 53 million people have a handicap or disability. In many parts of the country, the ability to drive is required for working and living an independent life. Millions of people could benefit from automated vehicles, allowing them a safe way to get to work or go about their everyday lives.  

Is Autonomous Driving Technology Safe? 

The advantages of autonomous software in terms of safety are substantial. Torc’s vision for autonomous driving systems and the promise that self-driving vehicles will save lives was inspired by a gruesome fact: 94 percent of major collisions on the road are caused by human error 

Self-driving semi-trucks can eliminate human error from collisions, protecting drivers, passengers, bikers, and pedestrians. The safety benefits derived from autonomous vehicles are magnified by the fact that over 35,000 people die each year in vehicle-related crashes in the U.S. Torc’s mission to save lives works as our knowledge that we can make safer roads through autonomous driving systems.  

Learn More 

If you would like to learn more about Torc’s autonomous driving technology, read Torc’s Vehicle Safety Self-Assessment (VSSA) Report. It provides a comprehensive overview of our safety culture and details how we are partnering with industry leaders to ensure the safe development and commercialization of our autonomous driving systems for autonomous freight trucks.