Daimler Trucks says it is establishing the Autonomous Technology Group (ATG) as a global organization for automated driving, bringing together its worldwide expertise and activities, as of June 1.
The main tasks of the new unit comprise overall strategy and implementation of the automated driving roadmap, including research and development, as well as setting up the required operations infrastructure and network, heading toward the series production of highly automated trucks (SAE level 4), the truck maker said.
The newly established ATG is part of Daimler Trucks’ global effort to put highly automated trucks onto the roads within a decade. To achieve this, Daimler announced an investment of more than $570 million at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas NV. In commercial trucking, Level 4 is the next step after Level 2 to increase safety, as well as efficiency and productivity, Daimler said.
“We are the pioneer for automated trucks,” said Martin Daum, a member of the board of management of Daimler AG who is responsible for trucks and buses. “With the formation of our global Autonomous Technology Group, we are taking the next step, underscoring the importance of highly automated driving for Daimler Trucks, the industry and society as well. With the new unit, we will maximize the effectiveness of our automated driving efforts and the impact of our investments in this key strategic technology.
“We will therefore be in the perfect position to put highly automated driving onto the roads, making transportation safer, saving lives and helping trucking companies boost their productivity.”
Daimler Trucks said Peter Vaughan Schmidt, currently its head of strategy, will lead the new cross-divisional organization.
In this position, Schmidt will continue to report to Martin Daum. Schmidt has 15 years of experience in the industry and in his previous position he was responsible for the development of Daimler Trucks’ strategy on automated vehicles.
“With the Autonomous Technology Group, we are bringing together our global experts and their vast knowledge in automated trucking,” Schmidt said. “In the first stage, we will focus on use cases of highly automated driving in defined areas and between defined hubs in the USA. 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.”
Roger Nielsen, CEO of Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA), which includes the Freightliner brand, said DTNA is excited to have its efforts backed by ATG.
“This new global organization will enable us to even stronger evolve the technology for highly automated driving and vehicle integration for heavy-duty trucks at our Automated Truck Research & Development Center in Portland,” Nielsen said.
“We’re fully committed to demonstrating the enormous advantages of highly automated driving first here in the USA.”
Daimler Trucks said the new unit will focus on software development, chassis redundancy, sensor kit integration and operations infrastructure, and include Blacksburg VA-based Torc Robotics, pending the approval of Daimler’s recent acquisition of a majority stake in the company, which is developing automation technology.
Daimler said the two companies complement each other, with Torc’s expertise in agile software development and Daimler Trucks’ experience in delivering reliable and safe truck hardware. 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.