TORC, a leader in the unmanned systems industry, continues to roll out groundbreaking technology that puts the growing company and Virginia’s New River Valley on the map.
Recently dubbed Blacksburg’s “poster child” by the Roanoke Times, TORC has long been celebrated as an important asset.
TORC recently unveiled a new autonomous vehicle – a 2017 Chrysler Pacifica that contains the same technology as Asimov, but with a much more inconspicuous look.
The new priority for TORC is commercialization; it’s less about showing off and more about showing up.
“We’ve been waiting for the time when it would be feasible to apply our system to consumer cars,” said TORC CEO Michael Fleming in a post on TORC’s website. “That time is now. Last year we were focused on proving the technology works. This year our focus is moving forward with commercialization.”
Virginia’s New River Valley has a large presence of both advanced manufacturing and software development, both of which the unmanned systems industry requires. The presence of a company like TORC legitimizes the area as a hub for unmanned systems.
“For [Torc] to be making a significant impact in the industry and them being located here really helps justify why we say it’s a great place for unmanned systems,” said Onward NRV Executive Director Charlie Jewell in a interview with the Roanoke Times.
TORC’s presence in the region helps spur activity for the industry and calls attention to applicable regional assets.
Starner had the chance to experience TORC’s self-driving technology firsthand.
“It would be my first ride ever in a self-driving car,” said Starner. “It likely won’t be my last. For the next half hour, the Torc-driven SUV navigated sharp curves, merged onto a busy highway, passed slow-moving trucks, avoided over-eager gawkers, and obeyed every law of the road, all in a steady rain in Appalachian hills, and did it flawlessly.”
Fleming helped Starner discover what locals have known for awhile: Virginia’s New River Valley is great for Unmanned Systems.
“Having 30,000 students in our backyard is an advantage,” Said Fleming. “The relatively low cost of living and the fact that the state of Virginia does not overregulate self-driving technology are big advantages for the work we do. Plus, we have the mountains, rural roads, fog, rain and snow — all the elements needed to fully validate self-driving technology.”
As the Unmanned Systems industry continues to grow, so will TORC. The company has grown more in the past year than it has in the previous ten.
TORC continues to draw national attention and be a local source of pride, proving this is just the beginning of UAS in the NRV.
Virginia’s New River Valley: Virginia’s New River Valley is an eclectic mix of interconnected small towns that each offer their own unique vibe and appeal. The region provides an abundance of cultural and social offerings due to the presence of three world-class universities, while retaining the charm and benefits of small town living. The NRV is home to a diverse and innovative business community with companies that range from high-tech startups to foreign-based corporations to specialty agribusiness. These organizations benefit from the collaborative spirit of our region and a loyal, highly-skilled, and educated workforce. The scenic beauty of the region also fosters a deep connection to nature, which is deepened by access to outdoor recreation and the preservation of our natural environment. It’s clear why Virginia’s New River Valley is “A Natural Fit.”
Onward NRV: Onward NRV is a public/private, regional economic development organization whose mission is to attract and retain world class jobs, investment, and talent in Virginia’s New River Valley. It’s also a movement where leaders from business, government, and higher education work together to promote the economic vitality of the region.