Daimler and Bosch Will Test Autonomous Taxis Within The Next Few Months
The two companies face plenty of competition in the segment.
Daimler and Bosch will begin testing autonomous "robo-taxis" on public streets within the next few months, executives from both companies told German auto-industry weekly Automobilwoche (via Reuters).
"There will be test vehicles on the streets in the coming months," Bosch CEO Volkmar Denner said, without providing more details. Bosch and Daimler formalized a self-driving car development partnership last year, one of many such partnerships throughout the industry. Depending on the scale of the tests, Daimler and Bosch could make big strides in the race to commercialize autonomous cars.
Automakers and tech companies hope to use self-driving cars in ride-sharing services. Waymo is stocking up on autonomous Chrysler Pacifica minivans for its planned ride-sharing service, and General Motors wants to launch a similar service next year. Lyft is conducting autonomous ride-sharing trials in Boston with the goal of giving 1 billion rides in autonomous electric cars by 2025.
Wilko Stark, vice president of Daimler and Mercedes-Benz Cars strategy, told Automobilwoche highly-automated cars will hit the streets "in the foreseeable future." He said Daimler will make SAE Level 3 and "Level 4/5" cars. Level 3 cars can drive themselves only in certain situations, while Level 4 cars are capable of fully-autonomous driving in all but extreme circumstances. Only Level 5 cars completely cut human drivers out of the equation.
While many companies are developing self-driving cars, Stark said Daimler will make more of an effort to tailor them to their intended use.
"The big difference to other competitors is that we are conceptualizing our vehicle as a robo-taxi right from the beginning and not as a technology kit mounted on a serial vehicle," Stark said. "We will not have a makeshift solution."
Daimler also has experience from its Car2Go car-sharing service that could prove relevant to running fleets of self-driving cars. Car2Go just reached 3 million members worldwide, and Daimler is reportedly in talks to combine it with BMW's ReachNow service to make an even larger enterprise.