- Daimler and Bosch will partner with the city of San Jose, CA on an autonomous ride-hailing pilot program, which the companies say will demonstrate the future of their mobility services.
- The service will launch in the second half of 2019 and will carry passengers around the San Carlos/Stevens Creek corridor between downtown and west San Jose. The service will use Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedans and all rides will have a safety driver on board to take control if necessary.
- The network will initially only be available to select members of the public, who can hail a ride through an app run by Daimler Mobility Services.
The collaboration joins a series of experiments in autonomous taxi services, highlighted by Waymo’s planned project in Arizona (although technical problems have delayed the expected fall launch). Volkswagen is backing an autonomous taxi project in Israel, and Tesla has also promised to build its own autonomous ride-sharing network, although Tesla has not released any details.
It’s a way to get customers into autonomous vehicles and more comfortable with the technology while keeping the cars in a relatively contained geographic area. It’s also seen as a preview of a possible future where people get around in autonomous ride-sharing networks rather than individually owned cars.
For Daimler and Bosch, the San Jose pilot will also show how practices from different mobility services owned by the companies — like car-sharing startup Car2Go and ride-hailing platform mytaxi — can be connected and work with autonomous technology. In a release, Daimler says it hopes to create "a seamless digital experience." Daimler and Bosch, the tech and hardware supplier, also share office space in Germany and Sunnyvale, CA.
Like others in the Bay Area, the city of San Jose has presented itself as a willing partner. Mayor Sam Liccardo said in a statement the pilot would help officials "explore how autonomous vehicles can help us better meet future transportation needs" for a city that is expected to expand its population by 40% over the next two decades.