German auto maker Daimler and rideshare giant Uber have announced an agreement on their intent to cooperate on the supply and operation of self-driving Mercedes-Benz vehicles, with Daimler also planning to introduce self-driving vehicles on Uber’s global ridesharing network in the coming years.
Daimler is the first auto company to join with Uber as it opens up its platform for manufacturers to introduce their own self-driving cars. With its new corporate strategy entitled CASE (Connected, Autonomous, Shared & services, and Electric), Mercedes is marking out the cornerstones for its future success and the reshaping of mobility. The company sees the new agreement as the next step into the future of shared and autonomous driving. The new Mercedes E-Class is the world’s first series-production vehicle to be awarded a test license for autonomous driving in the US state of Nevada. With its Highway Pilot system, Daimler Trucks is now the world’s first truck manufacturer with plans to develop an autonomous driving system for use in commercial vehicles.
Uber has assembled a strong self-driving engineering group with its Advanced Technologies Group, which is testing self-driving vehicles on the road in the USA, and Uber’s Otto division is also working on self-driving trucks. Uber has valuable experience that comes from running a ridesharing and delivery network across 74 countries, so it is envisaged that each company will benefit from the other’s industry-leading capabilities in research and development of autonomous driving and network operations.
“As the inventor of the automobile, Daimler aims to be a leader in autonomous driving, one of the most fascinating aspects of reinventing mobility,” said Dieter Zetsche, chairman of Daimler’s board and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. “Mobility service providers offer an ideal platform for autonomous driving technology, and Uber is a leading mobility platform company. The real revolution in future mobility lies in intelligently linking the four major trends we call CASE: connectivity, autonomous driving, sharing and electric mobility. And we will certainly be the driver of these changes.”
Travis Kalanick, CEO and co-founder of Uber, commented, “Self-driving technology holds the promise of creating cities that are safer, cleaner and more accessible. But we can’t get to that future alone. That’s why we’re opening up the Uber platform to auto manufacturers like Daimler. By combining Daimler’s and Uber’s technological strengths, more people can get access to reliable transportation at the push of a button.”
Kalanick gave further views on the partnership in a blog posting where he said, “Auto manufacturers are crucial to our strategy because Uber has no experience making cars, and in fact, making cars is really hard. That’s why instead of building them ourselves, we want to partner with the best auto manufacturers in the world. We can combine Uber’s global ridesharing network with the world-class vehicles of companies like Daimler, so that Uber riders can have a great experience getting around their cities. Last year in Berlin, Germany, Dieter (Zetsche) said that Daimler and Uber could be ‘frenemies’; in fact, we turned out to be great partners.”