Most of the autonomous vehicle pioneers Michael Fleming assembled more than 15 years ago at Virginia Tech to form Torc Robotics are still with the independent subsidiary of Daimler Truck, charged with leading the company to profitable driverless trucks.
They face less pressure than some of their startup competitors that raised money via special purpose acquisition companies and now face the filing of quarterly financial reports and other demands that can distract from technology development.
All Torc has to do is keep its manufacturing partner happy. Now that Daimler Truck is a standalone company following the conclusion of the “Operation Focus” spinoff from Daimler AG, interference from its longtime parent is unlikely.
Since merging with Daimler in 2019, Fleming has claimed that Torc will be the first autonomous truck developer to profitably scale robot trucks. But it is not obsessed with being first to market. Others predict they will remove the human driver as soon as late 2023.