Mercedes-Benz F015 Luxury in Motion concept, 2015 Consumer Electronics ShowEnlarge Photo
Uber has made little secret of its desire to launch self-driving taxi fleets all over the globe.
Uber is currently spending up big to develop the technology but it won’t limit its popular ride-sharing network to its own self-driving cars only. Instead, Uber will allow other firms including automakers to introduce and operate their own self-driving cars on the network.
And the first to sign up is Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler. Uber and Daimler announced an agreement on Tuesday for the intended supply and operation of self-driving Mercedes cars on Uber's network. Daimler is the first automaker to sign up, though we’re sure it won’t be the last.
The benefit for Uber is that it won’t have to invest in the costly and complex production of cars to build up its network, something made clear by CEO Travis Kalanick.
Uber CEO Travis KalanickEnlarge Photo
“Auto manufacturers like Daimler are crucial to our strategy because Uber has no experience making cars—and in fact, making cars is really hard,” Kalanick said in a statement. “This became very clear to me after I visited an auto manufacturing plant and saw how much effort goes into designing, testing and building cars.”
The touted benefits of self-driving cars are reduced accidents, fewer cars clogging up parking spots and low-cost, reliable transport for all.
What isn’t clear is when the technology will be ready for prime time. Many automakers are promising to have self-driving cars that can handle most situations on their own ready by the start of the next decade. That deadline is likely to be pushed back but it is clear self-driving cars are coming. Let’s just hope that cars that still require a human driver aren’t run off the road for good.
Pictured main is Mercedes’ F015 concept car from 2015. It previews the automaker’s vision of a future where driving is optional.