Torc Autonomous Truck - The Road to Autonomy

Scaling Autonomy Profitability

Andrew Culhane, Chief Strategy Officer, Torc Robotics joined Grayson Brulte on The Road to Autonomy podcast to discuss scaling autonomy profitability along with Torc’s strategic relationship with Daimler.

The conversation begins with Andrew reflecting on the last 14 years of Torc, as he first joined the company in 2008 as a Sales Engineer. Up until Daimler acquired a majority stake in 2019, the company never took any outside funding and was profitable each and every year.

Torc was bootstrapped from day one. We had no outside capital into Torc until the Daimler deal.

– Andrew Culhane

This is a success story. This is Torc. The can do attitude of running a growing profitable business has proven to be extremely successful for the company. While it’s successful today, it was a journey that was full of hard decisions and moments of uncertainty. It’s these moments of uncertainty that laid the groundwork for Torc pivoting to autonomous trucking as Andrew explains in detail. These decisions led to what the company is today, a company with a Daimler partnership that is solely focused on autonomous trucking.

We had learned a lot of lessons over all of those years and really understanding what it was going to take, and made that move to trucking before anybody else.

– Andrew Culhane

The decision to pivot from passenger vehicles, mining and military to focus solely on autonomous trucking was not an an easy decision. While the decision was not an easy one, it allowed the company to focus their entire effort on autonomous trucking. As part of their focus on autonomous trucking, the company is focused on a hub-to-hub model. This model was chosen based on experience and listening to the needs of their customers.

It has been three years since Daimler took a majority stake in Torc and there has been a great deal of collaboration during this time.

It’s been a really interesting partnership and collaboration.

– Andrew Culhane

This approach follows Torc’s track record of not overhyping and not making promises that they cannot keep. Torc has never publicly set a date to remove the driver and operate driver-out operations as they have always kept true to who they are. With this in mind, Grayson and Andrew discuss the boom and bust hype cycles of autonomy.

While Torc is not making timeline promises, the company is clearly laying the groundwork towards commercialization as the company recently appointed Peter Vaughn Schmidt (Head of Daimler Truck Autonomous Technology Group) as CEO.

Wrapping up the conversation, Andrew discusses what drove Torc’s financial discipline from day one.

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Recorded on Tuesday September 13, 2022