TNO and Torc Robotics collaborate to use real-world data for autonomous truck validation

10 November 2022

Dutch research organisation Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) today announced a strategic collaboration with Torc Robotics, an independent subsidiary of Daimler Truck. They are working together to substantiate the safety of self-driving trucks using scenario-based safety validation. TNO’s StreetWise, a safety validation methodology based on a real-world scenario database, provides a large collection of “driving events.” The methodology is designed to test and validate autonomous driving systems’ performance according to the latest safety requirements.

StreetWise is a data-driven methodology developed in TNO’s programme to make traffic more efficient, sustainable, and safer. It offers a solution to “knowing” foreseeable traffic situations that trucks will encounter on a trip from one hub to another. The methodology provides real-world scenarios and test cases for the development and assessment of Level 4 driving systems through automated analysis of driving data.

Torc is implementing StreetWise as a tool in its validation pipeline to analyse its real-world drive data. From the database parameters, substantial statistics are derived, keeping the original scenarios classified. The resulting scenario information enables Torc to apply thorough, virtual validation, according to state-of-the-art international safety assessment processes.

'Torc has 17 years of experience in pioneering safety-critical self-driving applications, and our technology is designed with safety as the priority. We take the driving behavior of the safest, most experienced drivers on the road as our role model,' said Axel Gern, senior vice president of engineering and managing director for Torc Europe.

'The StreetWise methodology offers the foundation for safety assessment. In addition, our shared beliefs regarding traffic safety ensure that TNO understands our needs and can provide the support to implement and scale up this methodology.'

Collective traffic scenarios

For safety assessments, the industry is using parametrised traffic situations as defined in the “Pegasus Project.” The core of the StreetWise method is a database in which all parameterized traffic scenarios are stored. The scenarios have been identified from driving data collected from various fleets of data collection vehicles. Modeling scenarios in a parameterised way in computer-readable format provides the necessary input for smart simulation software and a means to calculate the residual risk of autonomous driving.

TNO has developed its methodology such that it even allows for building a collective scenario database among specific industrial partners who make their data available for this purpose, without exchanging sensitive driving data between the partners. This permits partners to scale up to a scenario catalogue that is complete for different cities, countries, and continents, without the need to run their own expensive testing or data collection campaigns in each of the regions.

Feasible end-to-end safety assessment

The TNO and Torc collaboration includes the implementation and upscaling of TNO’s StreetWise software in TORC’s fleet operation. Torc will use the software to process fleet records daily and provide development engineers with traffic understanding.

'Autonomous transport plays an essential role in TNO’s mission towards more efficient, sustainable, and safer traffic and transport. The new safety challenges require legislation and standardisation within the industry. We are very pleased that Torc will be the first to operationalise our methodology, bringing adoption and standardisation in the field of safety validation one step closer,' said Olaf Op den Camp, safety assessment specialist, TNO.

About TORC

Torc Robotics, headquartered in Blacksburg, Virginia, is an independent subsidiary of Daimler Truck AG, a global leader and pioneer in trucking. Founded in 2005 at the birth of the self-driving vehicle revolution, Torc has 17 years of experience in pioneering safety-critical, self-driving applications. Torc offers a complete self-driving vehicle software and integration solution and is currently focusing on commercialising autonomous trucks for long-haul applications in the U.S.

Torc operates test facilities in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and additional engineering offices in Austin, Texas, and Stuttgart, Germany. Torc’s mission is saving lives with autonomous technology, which incorporates reducing highway deaths, enabling critical supplies – including medicines and foods – to reach every community in a timely manner, and helping the transportation industry increase fuel economy, uptime, and capacity.

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