TORC Technologies Announces Commercially-Available Drive-by-Wire Ford Escape

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TORC Technologies has announced the commercial availability of the ByWire XGV, a drive-by-wire converted Ford Escape Hybrid. The unmanned system is based on the company's successful partnership with Virginia Tech on Odin, the fully autonomous Ford Escape Hybrid that placed 3rd in the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge.

ByWire XGV

LabVIEW plays an important role in facilitating this development by providing a powerful and flexible programming language for sensor and actuator interface development, advanced control algorithm engineering, and custom communication protocol design.

TORC Technologies has announced the commercial availability of the ByWire XGV, a drive-by-wire converted Ford Escape Hybrid. The unmanned system is based on the company's successful partnership with Virginia Tech on Odin, the fully autonomous Ford Escape Hybrid that placed 3rd in the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge.

The ByWire XGV is a seamless integration of the TORC ByWire technology using National Instruments CompactRIO FPGA-based hardware and LabVIEW graphical system design software, TORC SafeStop emergency stop system, and the Ford Escape Hybrid sports utility vehicle. The result is a drive-by-wire converted, Joint Architecture for Unmanned Systems (JAUS) interoperable Ford Escape Hybrid, ready for industry applications or further autonomous research and development.

"It's important for TORC to continue to commercialize these technologies into off-the-shelf products so developers of autonomous systems can spend their time working on higher level autonomy, not converting vehicles or building components such as an emergency stop system," said Michael Fleming, CEO of TORC. Fleming adds "LabVIEW plays an important role in facilitating this development by providing a powerful and flexible programming language for sensor and actuator interface development, advanced control algorithm engineering, and custom communication protocol design."

The ByWire XGV provides a unified interface that controls the throttle, brake and steering, with additional sensor feedback for control. The clean installation consists of a touch screen interface in the center console, a system arm key and a fully integrated safety system utilizing TORC's SafeStop product. The SafeStop provides manual internal and external emergency stop buttons mounted on the vehicle in addition to the wireless handheld transmitter unit. The tightly packaged conversion leaves the front and rear seats open and unaltered, providing for extreme flexibility in its potential applications while leaving plenty of room for additional customization. Additional options include custom operator control units, power supply and a proprietary power distribution system located in the cargo space of the vehicle.

"TORC extended LabVIEW and CompactRIO to create an off-the-shelf autonomous vehicle development platform," said Pete Zogas, senior vice president of sales and marketing at National Instruments. "The combination of LabVIEW, CompactRIO and their integrated vehicle platform makes it easy for engineers to implement complex control and vehicle communications on a flexible FPGA-based embedded system."

Because of its extreme flexibility and cost effectiveness, the ByWire XGV is ideal for universities, unmanned systems developers and lead system integrators for further research and development. It is a rapid go-to-market option for industry and government organizations with mission-specific objectives such as surveillance and perimeter security. The ByWire XGV also is available with varying levels of autonomy with the addition of the AutonoNav product line, an autonomous navigational system from TORC.

The ByWire XGV now is available for purchase through TORC Technologies. Visit http://www.torctech.com to learn more about the ByWire XGV. To learn more about National Instruments technology used in robotic applications including autonomous vehicles such as Odin, visit ni.com/robotics.

About TORC Technologies, LLC:
TORC Technologies is automating dull, dirty, and dangerous tasks by commercializing intelligent robotic technologies into interoperable off-the-shelf products, providing the essential building blocks for rapidly enabling autonomy on virtually any platform. The TORC product line offers an integrated set of functionalities necessary for implementing varying levels of autonomous operation. From teleoperation to autonomy, the modular solutions from TORC can increase your speed to market while reducing risks and development costs.

CompactRIO, LabVIEW, National Instruments, NI and ni.com are trademarks of National Instruments.

Sales Contact:
Andrew Culhane, Sales Engineer
TORC Technologies, LLC
540-443-9262

Media Contact:
David Cutter, Marketing Manager
TORC Technologies, LLC
540-443-9262

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