German automaker Daimler, the sales leader of Class 8 tractor-trailer semis, is taking a majority ownership stake in U.S. autonomous vehicle technology firm Torc Robotics, Daimler said Friday.
Embark and self-driving truck company TuSimple have drawn plenty of attention and venture capital money as they develop autonomous semis.
Torc, based in Blacksburg, Virginia, was co-founded in 2005 by CEO Michael Fleming who had entered robotic competitions while studying at Virginia Tech. Fourteen years later, Fleming’s company is considered by many to be a leader in the rapidly growing field of autonomous vehicles.
In a statement announcing Daimler’s investment, Fleming said the U.S. will be a primary target for putting self-driving semi’s on highways.
“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. The trucking industry has become a focus of autonomous vehicle development due to several factors including the shortage of truck drivers.