BLACKSBURG, Va. — Self-driving vehicle technology company Torc Robotics has announced plans to collaborate with C.R. England on a pilot program using C.R. England’s temperature-controlled loads and Torc’s fleet of Level 4 autonomous test trucks for long-haul applications.
The collaboration will serve as an expansion for Torc into refrigerated freight, a news release noted.
At Level 4, the interaction between human and machine lowers as the vehicle’s capability increases. Steering, braking, accelerating and monitoring the environment are taken out of the driver’s hands, as well as changing lanes, turning and signaling, according to navigation company TomTom.
The vehicle can handle highly complex driving situations, such as the sudden appearance of construction sites, without any driver intervention. At the moment, this is allowed for specific, predefined circumstances, such as on controlled access highways.
However, a human still has the option to manually override.
The pilot will provide select customers “with temperature-controlled capacity and world-class service,” according to the companies.
Information from the pilot will include insights and will help guide the development and ongoing commercialization of autonomous trucks for long-haul applications. Initial planning will begin mid-2023, with on-road tests soon after.
“Torc is thrilled to be partnering with C.R. England to better improve long-haul trucking safety for one of the premium service providers and largest refrigerated carriers in the nation,” said Peter Vaughan Schmidt, Torc Robotics CEO. “The data derived from the pilot will contribute to our safety and validation efforts and use cases for autonomous trucking.”
The pilot program with C.R. England is Torc’s second announced carrier pilot. This news comes on the heels of Torc’s recently announced acquisition of Algolux for its award-winning intellectual property and expertise in computer vision and machine learning.
“C.R. England is excited to announce our partnership with Torc for pilot activities on level 4 autonomous test trucks. We believe this innovation will eventually provide the ability to expand our network safely, with high levels of service to our customers, all while enhancing the quality of existing driver jobs,” says Chad England, C.R. England CEO. “Specifically, by adding autonomous lanes to our network, we can expand our customer offerings and create more structured jobs for drivers at both ends of autonomous runs. Torc’s deep integration with Daimler Truck AG makes our two organizations a perfect fit for piloting this new technology.”
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