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Fleet of Autonomous Mercedes S-Class Cars Launches in San Jose

Colin Beresford
Photo credit: Bosch

From Car and Driver

  • Mercedes-Benz and Bosch are bringing their autonomous technology to the public with a pilot project in San Jose, California.
  • The fleet of 30 cars, including both autonomous and manually operated Mercedes S-class cars, will operate along a set route in and around San Jose.
  • The cars will have safety drivers, but the companies aim to phase them out eventually.

UPDATE 12/11/2019: This story has been updated to include comments from a Bosch spokesperson.

The race to fully autonomous vehicles is moving onto public streets. Self-driving company Waymo recently announced that it had recorded 100,000 rides and that driverless rides are soon coming to select riders; the Lyft and the "mobility" company Aptiv are jointly running a self-driving fleet in Las Vegas, both examples of how driverless tech is getting closer to consumers.

Now Mercedes-Benz and Bosch are putting their own self-driving technology on the streets in San Jose, California, with a ride-hailing pilot project. The two companies have been working together on self-driving technology for more than two years. For the fleet being deployed in San Jose, Mercedes is providing S-class cars, and Bosch is supplying the hardware for the autonomous tech, such as sensors and control units. The cars' autonomous technology has been jointly developed by Mercedes and Bosch, with the intention of having the project inform Mercedes's efforts to develop the autonomous technology used in the company's vehicle lineup.

The self-driving cars in the program will operate along a set route that appears to add up to a round trip of around eight miles, going between Diridon Station near the downtown area and Santana Row in West San Jose along surface streets, a Bosch spokesperson told C/D. The cars will have safety drivers to monitor them but eventually are intended to be completely driverless, a spokesperson for Mercedes-Benz told C/D, adding that there will be 30 vehicles in the fleet, some of which are autonomous and others manually driven. Access to the service will initially be limited.

"Since this is still a test environment we will offer this service to a limited amount of customers," the Bosch spokesperson said. "In the beginning, Daimler and Bosch associates are able to use the service, but the idea is to open up the service to the public as soon as possible."

The program will be eventually open to a select group of users who will schedule rides using a Daimler Mobility app, Mercedes' press release said, while not disclosing details of how many people would be in the pilot program or how many of the 30 vehicles will in fact operate autonomously. We'll bring you more details as they become available.

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