As Uber works to open its platform to automakers, a self-driving Mercedes might become a ride share option for Uber riders. Daimler, the maker of the luxury Mercedes-Benz autos and commercial trucks, plans to supply vehicles for use on Uber’s network.
The arraignment calls for vehicles equipped with autonomous drive technology to go in service with Uber “in the coming years,” the companies said in a joint statement on Tuesday. The vehicles will be produced in-house by Daimler.
“Auto manufacturers like Daimler are crucial to our strategy because Uber has no experience making cars—and in fact, making cars is really hard,” Travis Kalanick, Uber’s CEO said in a blog post. “That’s why instead of building them ourselves, we want to partner with the best auto manufacturers in the world.”
Uber began testing self-driving last year in Pittsburgh. The idea was also briefly tested recently in San Francisco, Uber’s home town, before a dispute with the Department of Motor Vehicles took place over the regulations and the company had to send its fleet to Arizona.
The precise timing that Mercedes-Benz is expected to join the Uber fleet has not yet been disclosed. The financial terms of the arraignment were not disclosed either.
Months after Dieter Zetsche, chairman of Daimler’s management board and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, said the two companies, Uber and Daimler, could be “frenemies,” the two are working on a partnership.
“We seek to combine our strengths,” Zetsche, said in a statement. “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.”
Uber is also looking into future partnerships that will expand their services to the commercial industry. Uber would like to develop self-driving commercial trucks. Daimler with its Highway Pilot initiative and Uber through Otto, a maker of automated driving systems for 18-wheel semi-trucks, both see a future for this aspect of the transportation industry.
Uber has already made additional moves into the mobility services industry. Uber already has a car subsidiary, Car2Go, which makes Smart mini-cars that are available to use by the hour via a mobile app. The company is also a part-owner of HERE, a digital mapping consortium shared with BMW and Audi. HERE provides crucial, real-time data to each company’s self-driving programs.
Uber’s efforts to offer a fully automated mobility service, without human drivers, will be a continuous effort.