Torc Robotics and AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah have partnered to test Torc’s self-driving system in unpredictable traffic hazards. During two weeks in November, the partners challenged Torc’s Asimov self-driving system in scenarios that included pedestrians, cyclists, and animals in a safe, controlled environment at Ohio’s Transportation Research Center (TRC). The scenarios simulated the complexity of actual driving situations, such as driving at night, handling complex intersections that include pedestrians or debris, and maneuvering around multiple vehicles on the road.

The challenges were designed using robotic pedestrians, animals, and dummy vehicles. The data is being studied from multiple perspectives to understand how to evaluate self-driving vehicles and how to determine safety metrics.

“The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports human error is a contributing factor in 94% of crashes. We see the potential to nearly eliminate traffic accidents by leveraging self-driving vehicles, but only if they are deployed in a safe way,” said Tim Condon, President and CEO of AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah, who also oversees operations for AAA in Alaska, Arizona, Montana, and Wyoming. “By developing a safety assessment for self-driving vehicles and testing them before they are deployed on public roads, we can help technology providers to focus on delivering safety and building the public’s confidence in this new technology.”

The biggest question for commercializing self-driving vehicles on public roads is when will they be safe enough and what safe enough looks like, according to Torc CEO Michael Fleming. “Torc’s mission is to save lives through the commercialization of our Asimov self-driving software stack.”

The ultimate goal of AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah is to provide an unbiased, independent assessment of self-driving vehicles and to help manufacturers improve safety before public deployment. AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah is seeking additional partners in the industry willing to collaborate to achieve this goal.