Your days of being chauffeured around may soon be at an end — not because taxis are going anywhere, but because their drivers are. Senior executives at Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler told a German publication that the company will soon begin testing robo-taxis “in the next few months” alongside automotive supplier Robert Bosch. The two firms first began working together last year in order to develop autonomous vehicles — now, it would appear that their partnership is yielding tangible results.
“There will be test vehicles on the streets in the coming months,” Bosch Chief Executive Volkmar Denner told Automobilwoche, though he did not provide further details. Given that Daimler is the world’s largest maker of premium cars and Bosch is the largest automotive supplier, their alliance could spell trouble for competitors also looking to get into the self-driving space. As Reuters notes, ridesharing giants like Uber and Didi have been working on autonomous taxis, and Waymo is currently in the process of testing their driverless cars in Arizona and beyond — in fact, the Alphabet subsidiary is testing cars in 25 U.S. cities.
“Apart from highly autonomous level 3 vehicles we will also bring fully autonomous vehicles – level 4/5 – to the streets in the foreseeable future,” Wilko Stark, vice president of Daimler and Mercedes-Benz Cars strategy, told Automobilwoche. Level 3 refers to cars that still feature a steering wheel and require a human driver to intervene should the vehicle run into a problem. Level 4, on the other hand, boasts true driverless features but only in dedicated lanes. Complete autonomy, otherwise known as level 5, is the most advanced of all — these cars won’t even have steering wheels to speak of. Rather, the “driver” side will just be another front seat.
“The big difference to other competitors is that we are conceptualising our vehicle as a robo-taxi right from the beginning and not as a technology-kit mounted on a serial vehicle. We will not have a makeshift solution,” Stark added.
So if you’ve been looking forward to an autonomous future, it looks as though your dreams are coming closer still to reality thanks to Daimler and Robert Bosch’s ambitious plans.
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