Our Story

Revolutionizing transportation for the better

Torc Freightliner Cascadia in Arizona on the highway

Safety is the backbone of our work.

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. 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.

Team VictorTango's vehicle crosses the finish line to capture third place at the DARPA Urban Challenge

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

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.

The Road Ahead

In 2017, founder Michael Fleming identified new areas of focus for the company and its technology: consumer mobility and commerce.

“As computing and sensor technology advanced, Torc saw the potential commercial applications for autonomy,” he said.

Torc rose to the challenge of developing Level 4 autonomous driving technology and installed its autonomous system in demonstration cars. Torc’s self-driving system, dubbed ‘Asimov,’ navigated a coast-to-coast trip across America that ended in Washington. It also became Washington’s first certified autonomous test vehicle under Gov. Jay Inslee’s 2017 Autonomous Vehicle Initiative.

Asimov at speed on a road.

Over the following years, the Asimov system was tested and proven in snow, rain, urban and highway environments with zero accidents.

With these achievements, Torc was refining its solutions for practical autonomy and, more importantly, demonstrating its sophisticated system to attract partners and forward its mission of saving lives.

A Partnership for Success

Torc truck driving on road

In 2019, Torc joined the Daimler Trucks family – a leader in truck manufacturing. The companies are now combining their efforts to create highly automated semi-trucks to serve the needs of a growing freight economy. Their shared vision of safer transportation and accessibility, along with both partners’ experience, creates a unique partnership that is positioned for success.

Always Moving Forward

three torc team members going over paperwork.

2020 marked Torc’s 15th anniversary as a company and saw Torc experience unprecedented growth as it established a test center in Albuquerque, New Mexico and continued growing its winning team. As Torc continues to realize its technological roadmap for commercializing Level 4 self-driving trucks within the decade,  the future is bright and the road is clear.

two torc team members looking at the grill of a truck.

In 2022, Dr. Peter Vaughan Schmidt succeeded Michael Fleming as CEO. Upon his appointment, Schmidt said, “We are all excited about this new chapter in Torc’s history. We’re building on Torc’s long tradition of autonomous innovation and safety and standing on the shoulders of the pioneers who built this industry from the ground up, starting 17 years ago with Torc’s founding.  We’re looking forward to focusing on our customers’ needs, developing great technology together, and bringing the best possible product and much needed capacity to market as quickly and safely as possible.”

Real-time Accomplishments: Torc Milestones

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