An experimental app-based ride-hailing service apparently has found the way to San Jose.
Bosch and Mercedes-Benz said their joint effort to develop an urban automated driving app-based ride-hailing service using automated Mercedes-Benz S-Class vehicles has launched in the Silicon Valley city of San Jose.
Monitored by a safety driver, the self-driving cars shuttle between West San Jose and the city’s downtown area, along two routes on city streets.
The service will initially be available to only a select group of users, who will use an app developed by Daimler Mobility AG to book a journey by the automated S-Class vehicles from a defined pick-up point to their destination.
Mercedes-Benz and Bosch hope the trial will provide insights into the further development of their Level 4/5 automated driving system. Researchers also expect to gain further insights into how self-driving cars can be integrated into an intermodal mobility system that also includes public transportation and car-sharing.
Back in 2017, San Jose was the first U.S. city to invite private companies to carry out field tests of automated driving and analyze the growing challenges in road traffic. Especially in congested city traffic, self-driving cars’ permanent 360-degree surround sensing can potentially enhance safety, and their smooth driving style can improve traffic flow.
For two and a half years now, Mercedes-Benz and Bosch have been working together on solutions for automated driving in cities.
The objective is to develop a production-ready system that can be integrated into different vehicle types and models.
“If automated driving is to become everyday reality, the technology has to work reliably and safely. And this is where we need tests such as our pilot project in San Jose,” said Michael Fausten, head of engineering for urban automated driving at Robert Bosch GmbH.
For their automated ride-hailing service pilot project, Bosch and Mercedes-Benz are using Daimler Mobility AG is developing and testing a fleet platform to accompany the pilot operation phase. This allows potential ride-hailing partners to seamlessly integrate self-driving (Mercedes-Benz) vehicles into their service portfolio.
An app-based mobility service for conventionally driven Mercedes-Benz vehicles went into operation in the Bay Area in the fall of 2019. The service is also available in the German capital Berlin.
“It’s not just the automated vehicles that have to prove their mettle. We also need proof that they can fit in as a piece of the urban mobility puzzle. We can test both these things in San Jose,” said Uwe Keller, head of autonomous driving at Mercedes-Benz AG.
“As a city, we want to know more about how automated vehicles can help improve safety and reduce congestion, as well as make mobility more available, sustainable, and inclusive. The project of Mercedes-Benz and Bosch ties in with San Jose’s extensive ‘smart city’ objectives. It will also help us develop guidelines for dealing with new technologies and prepare for the traffic system of the future,” added Dolan Beckel, director of civic innovation and digital strategy.
In addition, their alliance is not exclusively concerned with the road and weather conditions in the United States. While one part of the team is based in Sunnyvale, a Silicon Valley city between San Jose and San Francisco, another part comprising engineers from both companies works in the Stuttgart area.
The test in San Jose test is supported by engineers at the Immendingen testing and technology center in Germany, which can also make use of a 100,000 square-meter proving ground designed especially for automated driving.