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.