Torc Robotics, a self-driving truck firm headquartered in Blacksburg, will open its third U.S. location in Austin, Texas, in early 2022. The approximately 21,000-square-foot office will complement the firm’s Blacksburg headquarters and its Albuquerque, N.M. test center.
The expansion coincides with the recent two-year anniversary of Torc joining the Daimler Truck family as an independent subsidiary.
Torc, a pioneer in commercializing self-driving vehicle technology, and Daimler Truck, the market share leader in commercial vehicles, have pledged to commercialize level 4 autonomous trucks at scale within the decade. Level 4 vehicles can operate autonomously under certain conditions and parameters.
“Trucking is the backbone of the U.S. economy, and we predict hauling freight will be the first successful commercial application of self-driving on-road vehicles,” said Michael Fleming, Torc Founder and CEO. “This is why we’re laser-focused on the freight industry, taking a pure-play approach and joining forces with the leading heavy-duty trucking manufacturer in North America.”
“We are aggressively hiring key talent in engineering and product development to support our strategic growth,” said Mike Avitable, Torc Robotics’s vice president of engineering. “With Austin’s relatively low cost of living as compared to other major cities in the U.S. and high quality of life, it was the logical choice for our new facility. The local talent pool is impressive, and the city is also known for being innovative, collaborative, and entrepreneurial. We are confident that our future Austin Torc will share our passion for this technology and mission of saving lives.”
Along with the deep talent pool, Avitabile said that Austin was strategically selected due to its location along the Southwest shipping corridor, which is a key area for long-haul freight travel in the U.S. While the Texas facility will host mainly software development teams, Torc also plans to utilize the area to expand autonomous test truck development.
In addition to testing in other regions, Torc manages a fully operational test facility in Albuquerque, running multiple routes and shifts each day on New Mexico highways. This past year, Torc expanded on-road testing in Texas. Additional routes are planned, strategically based on major freight haulage lanes.
In 2020, Torc expanded its footprint in Blacksburg, adding nearly 16,000 square feet to its headquarters, and in 2021 the company added 28,000 square feet of office space for its workforce in Blacksburg’s Corporate Research Center.
“With self-driving trucks, we are solving one of the most challenging engineering feats of our generation,” Fleming said. “To support this need, the Austin office will primarily serve as another product development center for Torc and will employ engineering talent across the autonomy, systems, and infrastructure teams, as well as provide opportunities within product management. Torc has also been recruiting heavily for its growing engineering team in Blacksburg.”