December 11, 2019

Daimler starts pilot testing of self-driving Mercedes S-class taxis - Automotive News Europe

By Christiaan Hetzner December 02, 2019 9 0

Daimler and Robert Bosch said in November 2018 that San Jose, California's third-biggest city, would be the pilot city for trials of a highly automated driving ride-hailing service, targeted to begin during the second half of this year.

With its population expected to grow 40 percent in the next two decades, San Jose wants to prepare itself for a future in which autonomous cars hit the streets, the companies said.

Daimler and Bosch are looking to expand beyond their pilot program in San Jose, California, Sajjad Khan, the management board member for future technologies including driverless cars at Mercedes, told Automotive News Europe last month.

Even though it will continue with self-driving taxis, Daimler believes there is a greater chance of making money more quickly with autonomous driving applications for heavy trucks hauling goods than with passenger cars taxiing people.

The company will shift spending on robotaxi fleets to autonmous cars for private use in less complex highway traffic rather than in a chaotic urban environment.

Full scale deployment of the robotaxi business model would tie up a lot of capital with some uncertainties around the earnings potential, Kallenius said.

"At this juncture to be the first one out to do something like that at scale does not make sense," he said. "We are not stopping developing the robotaxis. We will go into the market when it's right, and we do not think that is in the short to midterm," Kallenius said.

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