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.
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.