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PODCAST: Autonomous Vehicles Were First Used to Help Soldiers Avoid Roadside Bombs. Interview with Torc Robotics.

In episode 1 of Tech Lightning Rounds, Intertrust Technologies goes directly to the source of AV expertise and hosts discussions with technologists who specialize in the field. Beth Kindig, holds discussions in “lightning round” format, which are rapid interviews for immediate depth on the topic.

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In episode 1, Beth Kindig interviews Michael Fleming, CEO of Torc, who has been developing autonomous vehicles for twelve years, which is a very long time for AV technology. Torc Robotics placed third in the 2007 DARPA Robotics Challenge and has since developed AV technologies for the military and mining industries. Michael discusses some of the history around AV and how it was initially developed to avoid military fatalities from roadside bombs and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Torc’s software combats IEDs through AVs that detect explosives and help to save human lives.

Michael and Beth also discuss the use of Torc’s autonomous vehicle software in Caterpillar’s driverless machinery. While many companies promise self-driving technologies in the future, Caterpillar is one of the only companies operating truly driverless vehicles and machinery today.

Because Michael has been developing the technology for quite some time, Beth also asks him how AVs can improve on safety from a technical standpoint. Michael and his team have been working on this problem and he discusses how to improve AV response and how to account for pedestrians doing things that they shouldn’t, such as stepping in front of a car at the last minute. He talks in-depth about the sensors required and what level of classification needs to occur.

Don’t miss this interview with one of the early technologists and a true innovator in autonomous vehicles as Michael Fleming discusses AV from the beginning stages from over a decade ago to where AVs stand today.

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Torc has been winning awards and competitions since autonomous vehicles first hit testing sites back in 2005. The team of Virginia Tech student engineers built three autonomous vehicles to compete in the AUVSI Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition and placed first, second and third. They then competed in the DARPA Grand Challenge placing eighth and ninth only to return in 2007 and place third out of 89 teams. Today, Torc is powering the mining industry to improve operational efficiency with companies such as Caterpillar (CAT). In addition, Torc’s Project Asimov are taking on the real world by detecting crucial yet challenging scenarios, such as when pedestrians step off street corners, or when there is poor weather conditions.

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