Daimler Trucks is establishing a dedicated division for automated driving. The Autonomous Technology Group, effective June 1, will be lead by current head of strategy Peter Vaughan Schmidt and work mainly on software development, chassis redundancy, sensor kit integration and operations infrastructure. The group is kickstarted with an investment of over €500m (US$558m).
The unit will work on setting out an overall strategy and implementing a roadmap for achieving Level 4 automated driving. The goal is also to set up the required operations infrastructure and network for the series production of highly automated trucks. Although the group will work with Daimler’s passenger car division, the technology for trucks and cars is quite different and as such, the Autonomous Technology Group will focus primarily on highway goods transportation, rather than inner-city passenger transportation.
A new executive position will be created for the head of the group, Peter Vaughan Schmidt. “With the Autonomous Technology Group, we are bringing together our global experts and their vast knowledge in automated trucking. In the first stage, we will focus on use cases of highly automated driving in defined areas and between defined hubs in the USA,” Peter Vaughan Schmidt said.
“In doing so, we will work closely together with customers whose business matches this automated driving application. We will not only develop the respective technology but also set up the required operations infrastructure and network.”
Software development will be one of the key activities of the Autonomous Technology Group. Another one will be the ‘vehicle project’: on the one hand, this project will be responsible for the redundancy in the chassis enabling the vehicle’s systems to take over roles of a professional driver while on the road.
On the other hand, the vehicle project will take care of the automated driving sensor kit integration (camera, lidar, radar), which – together with a very accurate map – is responsible for ensuring that the highly automated truck finds its own way on the road.
The operations infrastructure and network to be set up by the Autonomous Technology Group, another key activity, will consist of one main vehicle control center as well as additional stations at logistics hubs.
AV development company Torc Robotics will be part of the newly established group, pending the authorities’ approval of its recent acquisition by Daimler Trucks. Torc Robotics will remain a separate entity and retain its name, team, existing customers and facilities in Blacksburg. In addition, the founders of Torc Robotics will continue to be part of the company’s management team.