Many technological advancements come out of California’s Silicon Valley, so it’s no surprise that the latest self-driving vehicle experiment – a partnership between Mercedes-Benz maker Daimler and auto components maker Bosch – have chosen Silicon Valley to pilot their project. The two companies’ joint program will deploy self-driving taxis in the region next year as part of a test program of vehicles designed for city driving, the two companies said, though they have not yet identified the specific city in which the trials will take place, as they are still negotiating with city officials. The pilot program will include a safety driver and a steering wheel (so pedestrians and cyclists can rest easier).
Bosch is in the process of developing an electronic control unit, the main computer “brain” that will control functions within self-driving cars, using Nvidia hardware chips and base software technology. Until that development is complete, however, the autonomous self-driving cars will rely on existing technology from Nvidia, such as its Pegasus platform, according to Michael Fausten, Bosch’s head of urban autonomous driving.
“The most urgent and difficult work is to develop a system which will work reliably, safely, daytime and nighttime under all circumstances and conditions,” said Fausten.
Ultimately, users of the service would use an app-based mobility service operated by Daimler to summon a ride in an autonomous Merced Benz vehicle. For the purpose of the pilot project, Daimler and Bosch will begin offering rides for free on “selected routes” to a limited number of customers who have the app. The two companies have previously announced they plan to jointly offer a fully self-driving car by 2021.
The self-driving car program joins others being conducted by Waymo (by Google’s parent company Alphabet), Uber and General Motors. Daimler is said to be aiming for a more luxury-minded user than the other companies testing the self-driving model. Business Insider has theorized that Daimler is hoping to get a foothold in the luxury self-driving vehicle market before other high-end manufacturers like BMW announce their own plans.