Daimler AG’s truck unit agreed to buy a majority stake in US autonomous technology company Torc Robotics as the world’s biggest commercial-vehicle maker prepares to spend more than $561 million on self-driving vehicles in the next few years.
The deal is part of a plan to start running highly automated vehicles on US roads, starting with routes between logistics centres outside of cities, said Martin Daum, the chief executive officer of Daimler’s truck division.
“Freight volumes will increase in the next years and decades,” Daum said.
“Automated driving is an important lever to manage this rise in a way that makes sense commercially and for society.”
Daimler’s stake purchase coincides with ZF Group agreeing to buy Wabco Holdings Inc in a $7 billion deal. The German parts maker
is snapping up semi-autonomous technology for commercial trucks as vehicle manufacturers respond to the shift to self-driving and electric vehicles.
Daimler in January said it would offer trucks that don’t need driver intervention within the decade.
“We plan to turn this into a commercial venture in less than this time,” Daum said, declining to outline when testing in the US would start.
“Ours and this deal show how the industry is preparing to meet the new challenges.”
Earlier this year, Daimler said it would offer a
heavy-duty truck in the US that’s able to brake, accelerate and steer at all speeds on its own. Unlike systems assisting truck drivers that need just two sensors to function, highly-automated trucks will require several dozen, Daum said.