Daimler Eyes Self-Driving Truck Market With Stake In Robotics Firm

autonomous vehicle

German carmaker Daimler, which sells the most Class 8 tractor-trailer semi trucks, will take a majority stake in Torc Robotics, a U.S. autonomous vehicle technology company, according to a report by CNBC.

It’s not known how much Daimler is going to invest or how much of the company Daimler will own.

“Torc takes a practical approach to commercialization and offers advanced, road-ready technology, plus years of experience in heavy vehicles,” said Roger Nielsen, CEO of Daimler Trucks North America, in a statement.

Torc and other companies developing self-driving technology have attracted attention from venture capitalists and automakers alike as the idea of autonomous trucks inches closer to reality.

Torc is based in Virginia and was founded in 2005 by CEO Michael Fleming. It’s considered to be a leader in the field by many analysts. Fleming said the U.S. is a main target for getting autonomous trucks on the road.

“With the ever rising demand for road transportation, not the least through e-commerce, there is a strong business case for self-driving trucks in the U.S. market,” he said.

In January, Daimler announced plans to invest $573 million (500 million euros) into developing autonomous trucks. The move would create 200 jobs, the company said.

Daimler wants a “global push to bring highly automated trucks (SAE level 4) to the road within a decade,” the company said.

“Highly automated” means the vehicles will “travel in defined areas and between defined hubs without any expectation of the system that a user will respond to a request to intervene,” according to a report by Freightwaves. Vehicles that are designated level 4 can drive fully autonomously, in most conditions.

Level 5 means there’s no need for a human driver, and by reaching level 4, Daimler will be close to that distinction.

Daimler Trucks CEO Martin Daum said he wanted to put a level 4 truck on the road in the United States this year, but declined to say where. He was speaking at CES.

“Why are we here?” asked Daum. “Because our trucks are all about technologies.”