What happens when a police officer needs to pull over a self-driving truck and there’s no truck driver behind the wheel?

That question and similar challenges are what the Torc team is addressing to help define the vision for an autonomous command center: the apex of the self-driving truck support system, which Torc will utilize to monitor truck health and support customers. A part of that vision is a plan to support human interactions, like those with members of law enforcement.

The team approaches these tasks by getting great thinkers with different perspectives and backgrounds together in a room, including partners from academia and the trucking industry, and setting the challenge in front of them. In the spring of 2022, Cornell University MBA students were tasked with investigating what would need to be considered when an unexpected situation happens on the road. The Cornell University MBA students’ problem statements included:

  • What must happen when an autonomous truck stops?
  • How can a remotely located human increase the safety of the situation?
  • How should a situation like this be handled, best case?

After three months of work, the final student presentation was presented in May 2022. Exceeding all of Torc’s expectations, not only did the student team provide market research findings, recommendations, a minimum viable design with an architecture proposal, and technical concept of the feature, but also a prototype demonstrating how to track, alert, and manage various situations.

“At Cornell’s Johnson Business School, we are very focused on providing future technology leaders with experiential opportunities with industry as part of their curriculum in the Digital Technology Immersion. The Project at Torc Robotics was a great example of that. We are very thankful to the team at Torc for providing this opportunity. In particular, Klara Oberhollenzer and Dottie Love for mentoring and guiding our students, to learn about and contribute to the emerging world of autonomous truck driving,” said Vidur Luthra, Cornell University Instructor.

“Not only am I a proud Torc Mentor, but also extremely grateful for the experience to work with and support young talent,” says Dottie Love, Torc mentor for Cornell University. “Cornell is one of several college partnerships that the MCLI Team has established. And as the student team’s Torc Mentor, the results were a complete success! Granted, more must be done, but the foundation for this critical scenario has been established for our Mission Control work.”