Our Story

Giving birth to the future of autonomous technologies

Our goal was and is simple: to save lives

In 2005, a group of Virginia Tech student engineers designed and built three autonomous vehicles to compete in the AUVSI Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition. After three rigorous days, competing against 27 other teams, the students swept the competition placing first, second, and third. This competition set the foundation for Torc’s core value of Winning Teams.

Later that year, the students built two other autonomous vehicles to compete in the DARPA Grand Challenge. Out of 195 applicants, the team placed eighth and ninth, completing nearly 100 combined miles of autonomous driving in the harsh rocky desert terrain.

An overview of the history of Torc, and how we're leading the autonomous revolution

These successes generated a wealth of interest across several markets including automotive, mining and defense. To commercialize the technology and keep the team together, Torc was founded in 2005.  The company name was selected as a play on the word “torque,” implying that our technology controls the steering wheel to drive an autonomous vehicle. We opened an office in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center and enrolled in the VTKnowledgeWorks technology incubator. 

Shortly thereafter, DARPA announced the next robotic challenge. The 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge was a 60-mile race through urban and off-road terrain. Unlike previous challenges, other manned and autonomous vehicles would be on the course at the same time.

We believe commercializing self-driving technology will make the world a safer place.

Torc entered the competition in partnership with Virginia Tech, forming team VictorTango, and was awarded one of the $1 million DARPA grants. The team finished third out of 89 teams, completing the event in four hours and 36 minutes.

In honor of the 10-year anniversary of our success in the DARPA Urban Challenge, Torc kicked off Project Asimov. The advanced self-driving demonstrator includes two Lexus RX vehicles retrofitted with Torc’s end-to-end self-driving software stack. They have been operating on public roads, in a variety of weather conditions, since February 2017.

Torc demonstrated its complete self-driving system for consumer automobiles at CES 2018. The driving demos of its Lexus RX vehicles showcased Torc’s autonomous technology on public roads in downtown Las Vegas.

Today, Torc’s R&D, engineering and consulting services is helping leaders in a wide range of industries put advanced robotics and on- and off-road self-driving automobile technologies to work, and remains committed to its mission of commercializing self-driving technology to make the world a safer place.

Jim DudleyOur Story