Bosch, Daimler Plan California Shuttle Pilot Program With Autonomous Tech

Vehicles will operate in an unnamed Silicon Valley city.

Mercedes Benz

Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler and supplier Bosch plan to launch a pilot autonomous technology shuttle service in California next year. The companies said a fleet of autonomous-tech vehicles will provide rides to members of the public in an unnamed Silicon Valley city. Both companies aim to use the pilot to further develop their autonomous-driving tech, and demonstrate how self-driving cars can be used in mobility services like car-sharing.

The pilot program will begin in the second half of 2019. Daimler and Bosch did not provide any details on how many vehicles will be used, or how people will be able to sign up for the program. The companies are also keeping the name of the Silicon Valley city that will host the pilot under wraps for now, only saying that vehicles will operate on designated routes within that city.

The prototype vehicles will use an array of sensors, including cameras, radar, lidar, and ultrasonic sensors, to navigate. Bosch and Daimler said they will develop artificial-intelligence algorithms to control the vehicles, which will run on Nvidia computers. The U.S.-based tech company already provides computers to companies like Baidu and Roborace for use in their autonomous-driving technology development programs.

Like other prototype vehicles with autonomous tech, the shuttles operated by Daimler and Bosch will require a massive amount of computing power. Daimler said the vehicles' onboard computers will be capable of hundreds of trillions of operations per second, or more computing power than several S-Class sedans put together. All computing operations will be performed in parallel on multiple circuits for redundancy, according to Daimler.

Daimler has maintained a license to test prototype self-driving tech in cars on California public roads since 2014, and Bosch has been testing in the U.S. since 2013. Daimler's testing has been largely concentrated around the Silicon Valley city of Sunnyvale, California, so it wouldn't be surprising if Sunnyvale became the location for the shuttle pilot. The two companies began partnering on autonomous-driving tech last year, and employees are now sharing office space in California and Germany, the companies said.