Two of the largest German companies, Mercedes-Benz and Tier 1 auto parts supplier Bosch, are bringing a new self-driving taxi service to San Jose, California. Autonomous S-Class vehicles will carry passengers between West San Jose and the city's downtown, the companies said on Monday.
However, this is not a dynamic driving service like some other autonomous taxi drivers. The vehicles will run on a fixed route along the thoroughfares San Carlos Street and Stevens Creek Boulevard, the companies said. The self-driving cars will have safety drivers in the front seats to monitor the driving. A select group of passengers get access to an app that they can use to book trips.
Mercedes-Benz and its parent company Daimler have in the past worked on a number of self-propelled projects ranging from futuristic concepts (such as the F 01
Last year, Mercedes and Bosch first announced their intention to launch a free self-drive service in the second half of 2019. At this time, however, the companies still decided for vehicles of the S-Class and V-Class. With the choice of the S-Class, Mercedes seems to be geared towards more luxury and premium customers with its first autonomous mobility service.
Mercedes-Benz and Bosch are not the first to offer rides in semi-autonomous or fully automated vehicles. Waymo is already shuttling back and forth between willing participants in Phoenix, Lyft has been offering rides in Las Vegas, and a startup called Voyage is offering them in a retirement settlement in Florida. Toyota plans to offer rides in its self-driving cars for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Neither would the company specify how many vehicles it used for the pilot, nor how many customers wanted to include it in the hail tests. Bosch and Mercedes-Benz have been working together for more than two years on the software for controlling the movement and management of the vehicle. Earlier, Mercedes said it was relying on a custom version of Nvidia's autonomous vehicle technology – although the GPU company was not mentioned in today's announcement.
Mercedes-Benz is one of 65 California-registered companies testing self-driving cars on public roads. According to the 2018 report to the State DMV, the automaker registered four vehicles for test purposes and reported 682.52 disengagements – or cases in which the security driver was forced to take over the vehicle or voluntarily take on the services – per 1,000 miles.