German automaker Daimler AG and supplier Robert Bosch GmbH have chosen San Jose in Silicon Valley as its pilot city for an autonomous ride-hailing service that's set to launch in the second half of 2019, the companies announced Thursday.
Bosch and Daimler plan to deploy the service with a fleet of self-driving Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedans. The ride-hailing pilot service will be offered to a "selected user community" in a corridor between downtown and west San Jose.
“We have to rethink urban transportation," Stephan Hönle, Bosch's senior vice president of the automated driving business unit, said in the joint statement. "Automated driving will help us complete the picture of future urban traffic.”
The planned robo-taxi pilot in San Jose comes as General Motors Co.'s autonomous-vehicle development arm GM Cruise is also planning a driverless taxi service next year, likely in the San Francisco area where it conducts most of its testing. Alphabet's Waymo has been running a pilot ride-hailing service with its driverless Chrysler Pacifica minivans in suburban Phoenix since last year.
The two German auto companies announced their intention earlier this year to deploy self-driving taxis, using chip-maker Nvidia's AI platform, in California. Bosch and Daimler have been working together on autonomous vehicle technology since last year, with teams in the greater Stuttgart area in Germany and in Silicon Valley. Bosch is responsible for developing sensors, actuators and control units, while Daimler is responsible for integrating the drive system into the car.
The ride-hailing app for the self-driving taxi service will be operated by Daimler Mobility service, which already powers the company's car2go car sharing service and mytaxi ride-hailing service.
Daimler and Bosch say they will use the pilot program in San Jose to gather information about how to best integrate fully autonomous vehicles into a transportation network that's part of the companies' joint goal to improve urban congestion and road safety.