Daimler, the parent company of the Mercedes-Benz and smart brands, and major parts supplier Bosch announced Tuesday that it will deploy a self-driving taxi test program in Silicon Valley next year, taking the fight right to the heart of the ride-sharing world.
According to Reuters, the two companies will partner on a “passenger shuttle service,” but were mum about which city the program would be deployed in. With Uber, Lyft, Google, Apple, and other mobility providers as next door neighbors, the announcement is a clear shot across the bow of some of the leading companies in autonomous technology and robo-taxis.
With autonomous cars and ride sharing technology requiring an absurd number of factors to consider for their successful implementation, tech companies, automakers, suppliers, and governments are teaming up en masse to be the first (and best) to implement solutions, so it’s possible that the move to Silicon Valley is Daimler’s attempt to tap into the knowledge base there that already exists.
The vehicles will still include a steering wheel and a “driver” for safety purposes, much like Uber’s now infamous autonomous test vehicles, and S-Class and B-Class models will be used in the test, while the primary vehicle for the pilot program has not been selected yet.
While Daimler, Uber, and more are still very much in the testing phase, Google-owned Waymo is set to announce its fully-self-driving service in Phoenix soon, giving them a leg up in the increasingly tight race.
Whatever the case, Silicon Valley’s self-driving scene just got a bit more crowded.