Torc was founded by a small group of engineers from Virginia Tech to save lives with revolutionary technology. Many of those founding members are still with the company, including the current CEO, Michael Fleming. However, the true launching point for Torc came with its 3rd place win in the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge — an event now regarded as an important milestone in autonomous vehicle history.
Following their success at DARPA, the Torc team decided on a different approach than many of their technology start-up peers, opting to grow the company organically through contracts with established partners instead of vying for external investor funding. Torc committed itself to develop based on a business case: create technology that solves real-world problems.
The team focused on two core components: creating the full-stack software for autonomous driving and sensor suite integration while also partnering with companies that offered established platforms and infrastructure to rapidly and safely deploy the vehicles.
Early adopters of driverless technology partnered with Torc to solve some of the most difficult challenges across many industries. Working with the U.S. Department of Defense, Torc outfitted vehicles with technology capable of detecting and removing roadside IEDs (improvised explosive devices), one of the leading causes of casualties to warfighters at the time. Other military applications came in the form of driverless vehicles capable of navigating off-road terrain to lighten the load of warfighters and autonomously delivering supplies through potentially dangerous routes.
Torc also developed driverless solutions for mining and construction. We partnered with Caterpillar for over a decade to enable their vehicles to be operated remotely, removed the operator from dangerous conditions such as landslides, and improved overall site efficiency.
Through these early partnerships, Torc gained experience integrating its technology in a wide range of platforms and established itself as a company that could rapidly innovate and succeed at commercialization.