Self-driving Mercedes-Benz S Class sedans are coming to San Jose

Another autonomous ride-hailing test project has popped up in the U.S. This time, Daimler and Bosch, one of the largest automotive tech and hardware suppliers in the world, are partnering to pilot a robotaxi service in San Jose, California.

The program will use automated Mercedes-Benz S Class vehicles, the German automaker’s full-sized luxury flagship sedans, the company announced Thursday. The robotaxi trials will begin in the second half of 2019 in a geofenced area in the San Carlos and Stevens Creek corridor between downtown and west San Jose.

The pilot will use an on-demand ride-hailing service app operated by Daimler Mobility Services.

Select members of the public will be given access to the app and be able to hail a self-driving car from a designated pick-up location. The rides will all be monitored by a safety driver.

“The pilot project is an opportunity to explore how autonomous vehicles can help us better meet future transportation needs,” San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo said in a statement.

For Daimler, it’s a chance to bring together several of its businesses under an autonomous vehicle trial and see if they can work in concert. Daimler owns car-sharing company car2go, ride-hailing company mytaxi and its mobility unit moovel. The intent, Daimler says, is to provide a seamless digital experience.

Daimler and Bosch formed a partnership in 2017 to bring fully autonomous vehicles to urban roads “by the start of the next decade.”

Since then, the two companies launched an automated valet system at the parking garage for the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany. Meanwhile, Bosch is building a $1.1 billion facility that will produce semiconductors used in self-driving cars, smart homes and smart city infrastructure. The Dresden-based chip fab is set to start producing silicon commercially in 2021, and construction is supposed to be completed in 2019.

“We have to rethink urban transportation. Automated driving will help us complete the picture of future urban traffic,” said Dr. Stephan Hönle, senior vice president of the Automated Driving business unit at Robert Bosch GmbH.