Daimler Trucks and Torc Robotics have begun testing automated trucks with SAE Level 4 technology on public roads in Virginia, US.

The vehicles will initially be tested on highways in south-west Virginia.

The tests will be overseen by an engineer and a trained safety driver certified by Daimler Trucks and Torc Robotics.

The safety drivers are experienced in vehicle dynamics and automated systems.

The automated trucks have been deployed on public roads following months of testing and safety validation on a closed-loop track.

Under the comprehensive safety process, both test track and on-road validation are essential for advancing automated technology.

Daimler management board member Martin Daum said: “Torc Robotics is a leader in automated driving technology. Daimler Trucks is the market leader in trucks and we understand the needs of the industry. Bringing Level 4 trucks to the public roads is a major step toward our goal to deliver reliable and safe trucks for the benefits of our customers, our economies and society.”

Viriginia-based Torc is now part of Daimler Trucks and its Autonomous Technology Group.

With locations in Blacksburg and Portland in the US, and Stuttgart, Germany, Daimler Trucks is consolidating all its expertise and activities in automated driving into the global entity.

Torc Robotics CEO Michael Fleming said: “Being part of Daimler Trucks is the start of a new chapter for Torc.

“Our whole team is thrilled to be working alongside our Daimler colleagues as we pursue the commercialisation of Level 4 trucks to bring this technology to the market because we strongly believe it can save lives.”

Torc has tested its Asimov system for automated driving. The system was tested in urban settings and long-haul routes, in addition to rain, snow, fog and varying light conditions.

Daimler Trucks North America president and CEO Roger Nielsen said: “As we pair Daimler’s expertise in building safe and reliable trucks with Torc’s genius in engineering Level 4 vehicles, we have no doubt we will do great things in the future. We look forward to writing history together. The US highways are the perfect place to develop automated driving technology.”