Torc Robotics’ self-driving car successfully completes cross-country road trip
Just a few weeks after unveiling its self-driving car technology, Blacksburg, Virginia-based Torc Robotics has announced that its self-driving car has completed a cross-country road trip, in which the vehicle drove more than 4,300 miles autonomously through 20 states.
According to the Roanoke Times, the vehicle started its journey on July 7 in Washington D.C. with three certified safety drivers and one Torc engineer. During the cross country trip, there was always someone sitting in the driver’s seat just in case of an emergency, and the safety drivers rotated time behind the wheel.
After crossing 13 states on its westward drive, the vehicle arrived in Seattle, Washington on July 12, and was greeted by Governor Jay Inslee’s office. While in Washington state, Torc became the first company to register in the state’s newly created Autonomous Vehicle Pilot Program.
During its trip back home, the vehicle drove autonomously through seven additonal states, and finished its trip in Richmond, Virginia near the Virginia Executive Mansion on July 26.
Upon returning to Virginia, the vehicle provided a test ride for Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson. Gov. McAuliffe and Secretary Jackson each praised the achievements of Torc Robotics.
“I want to congratulate Torc on accomplishing this incredible feat,” McAuliffe said. “I am proud to see a home-grown engineering firm develop self-driving technology and introduce it to the rest of the country on a coast-to-coast drive.”
Jackson added, “Torc’s accomplishment is a shining testament to the quality of innovation occurring everyday here in the Commonwealth.”
One of the main benefits of driving cross country was that the vehicle was able to be tested on different road conditions and in various weather conditions.
Torc Robotics had its coming out party in 2007 during the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Urban Challenge, when its vehicle placed third in the challenge. Ever since then, the company has been working on improving its technology, and along the way, Torc has applied its technology to a variety of commercial ground vehicles, including military vehicles and large mining trucks.
For Torc CEO Michael Fleming, this achievement was extremely gratifying, especially considering the timing of it.
“Driving out to Seattle and back was an important testing milestone,” Fleming says.
“And finishing the trip here in Virginia with the Governor and Secretary of Technology is the best homecoming, especially on the 10-year anniversary of the DARPA Urban Challenge.”