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Daimler's Torc Robotics picks Amazon as cloud provider for self-driving trucks

02/17/2021 | 03:20am EDT
Self-driving truck operated by Daimler unit Torc Robotics undergoes testing on U.S. highway

(Reuters) - Daimler AG unit Torc Robotics said on Wednesday it has selected Amazon's cloud computing division to handle huge amounts of data in real time as it prepares to test self-driving test trucks in New Mexico and Virginia.

Acquired by Daimler in 2019, Torc is developing level 4 autonomous technology - where the vehicle operates itself under specific operating conditions - which Daimler Trucks believes will fundamentally change the trucking and logistics business.

"The problem we're trying to solve is the most difficult technical problem of our generation," Torc Chief Executive Michael Fleming told Reuters. "In order to solve that, you must partner with the best in class."

Torc's software collects and processes massive volumes of raw data from multiple sensors such as lidar, radar and cameras on its self-driving trucks. Amazon Web Services (AWS) will provide engineers with tools to design tests and run simulations, the two companies said.

The tests on Torc's second generation of trucks will begin this quarter.

Self-driving technology for freight trucks has attracted investor attention as it should be easier and cheaper to roll out than in self-driving cars and robotaxis, while providing a clearer path to profitability.

Self-driving freight services run on fixed routes between predefined points - mostly on major highways without intersections or pedestrians. That requires far less mapping than shuttling customers between random points in robotaxis.

Wendy Bauer, global head of automotive at AWS, said 90% of the cloud computing division's innovations come from working with customers so "by partnering with Torc that will push us to further advance our service offering."

Amazon has invested in self-driving software startup Aurora and seeks a major role in self-driving technology, connected cars, electric vehicles and management of the data generated by automakers and drivers.

In December, AWS and BlackBerry said they have developed a cloud-based software platform to help automakers standardize vehicle data and swiftly deploy revenue-generating services.

And BMW has built a data hub with AWS to boost efficiency.

(Reporting by Nick Carey in London; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

By Nick Carey

© Reuters 2021
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