Look out, startups. The big guns are taking on autonomous driving with serious intent. Daimler, one of the largest vehicle manufacturers in the world, announced that it is partnering with Bosch, one of the largest automotive tech and hardware suppliers in the world, to bring fully autonomous vehicles to urban roads “by the start of the next decade.”
It’s already 2017, so the start of the next decade is not quite three years away. But with the resources available to the Daimler-Bosch partnership, they plan on co-developing vehicles capable of SAE Level 4 fully automated driving and SAE Level 5 driverless operation. The focus of the partnership will be on the software and algorithms required to make those advanced driving systems safe and predictable.
According to press releases from both companies, the goal is to create shared cars that can operate autonomously within designated areas of a city. The user can call the car via app, ride without a driver, and be dropped off, leaving the driverless car to pick up another customer. The companies hope to both ease traffic and improve accessibility for those who can’t drive or don’t have a driver’s license.
Of course, other ride hailing companies are already headed down this driverless road, most notably Uber. But Uber and Daimler formed a partnership in early 2017 to develop self-driving cars. And Mercedes-Benz, which is under the Daimler umbrella, has been showcasing fully autonomous concept cars at auto shows in recent years.
But in an interesting side note, the head of the Mercedes-Benz Cars R&D validation and testing, Jochen Haab, said in an interview over the weekend that a “driverless taxi”-type situation was “at least a decade away.” Haab was in Australia overseeing an autonomous driving pilot project–one that may move a bit more quickly now.