Torc Robotics Shows Snowy Self-Driving Car Test

Blacksburg, Va.-based Torc Robotics has released a video showing a prototype autonomous car navigating public streets during a spring snowstorm.

The Lexus RX crossover was equipped with Torc’s autonomous drive technology and a Nvida processor. The vehicle operated in stop-and-go traffic on crowded city streets and on highways at speeds as great as 60 mph during day and night conditions. In addition to a spinning lidar unit and other sensors, the car followed the tracks of other vehicles when lane markings were snow covered and in other reduced visibility situations.

Torc says the test more accurately reflects real-world snow driving than those conducted by competitors in geofenced areas and other controlled environments. A safety driver was onboard to take control if necessary.

Torc was founded in 2005 by Virginia Tech University students. The company teamed up with the school to compete—and finish third—in the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge for autonomous vehicles.

In recent years the company has focused on developing technologies for autonomous vehicles used in mining and defense industry applications. In January, Torc partnered with AAA insurance to demonstrate the self-driving Lexus at the CES electronics show in Las Vegas.

The vehicle is nicknamed Asimov, after legendary science fiction writer Isaac Asimov, who penned the classic novel “I, Robot.”