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Mercedes-Benz and Bosch start San José pilot project for automated ride-hailing service; automated S-Class

Bosch and Mercedes-Benz’s joint project to develop urban automated driving has now entered a new stage. Their pilot project for an app-based ride-hailing service using automated Mercedes-Benz S-Class vehicles has now been launched in San José, California.

Monitored by a safety driver, the self-driving cars shuttle between West San José and downtown, along the San Carlos Street and Stevens Creek Boulevard thoroughfares.

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The service will initially be available to a select group of users. They will use an app developed by Daimler Mobility AG to book a journey by the automated S-Class vehicles from a defined pick-up point to their destination.

Mercedes-Benz and Bosch hope this trial will provide valuable insights into the further development of their SAE Level 4/5 automated driving system. The partners also expect to gain further insights into how self-driving cars can be integrated into an intermodal mobility system that also includes public transportation and car-sharing.

In mid-2017, San José was the first US city to invite private companies to carry out field tests of automated driving and analyze the growing challenges in road traffic. Especially in congested city traffic, self-driving cars’ permanent 360-degree surround sensing can potentially enhance safety, and their smooth driving style can improve traffic flow.

As a city, we want to know more about how automated vehicles can help improve safety and reduce congestion, as well as make mobility more available, sustainable, and inclusive. The project of Mercedes-Benz and Bosch ties in with San José’s extensive ‘smart city’ objectives. It will also help us develop guidelines for dealing with new technologies and prepare for the traffic system of the future.

—Dolan Beckel, Director of Civic Innovation and Digital Strategy

From August through November, representatives of the project joined staff from the City of San José to discuss the project with several community organizations. At seven meetings of neighborhood and business groups along the corridor, the team discussed the project goals, demonstrated the vehicle technology, explained the layers of safety redundancy built into the project, and took suggestions for future use cases.

For some two and a half years now, Mercedes-Benz and Bosch have been working together on solutions for automated driving in cities. Their common goal is an SAE Level 4/5 driving system for fully automated and driverless vehicles, including the software for vehicle management. However, they are not interested in prototypes, but instead want to develop a production-ready system that can be integrated into different vehicle types and models.

In their work to develop software for controlling vehicle movement, the partners deliberately do not rely solely on artificial intelligence and clocking up test mileage. Their engineers also use simulations and specially designed proving grounds to specifically address the kind of driving situations that occur only very rarely in road traffic.

For this purpose, engineers at the Immendingen testing and technology center in Germany can also make use of a 100,000 square-meter proving ground designed especially for automated driving. There, complex traffic situations can be reproduced extremely accurately, and as often as desired.

Specially for their automated ride-hailing service pilot project, Bosch and Mercedes-Benz have taken a further partner on board: Daimler Mobility AG is developing and testing a fleet platform to accompany the pilot operation phase.

This allows potential ride-hailing partners to seamlessly integrate self-driving (Mercedes-Benz) vehicles into their service portfolio. The platform manages both self-driving and conventional vehicles, including operation and maintenance. An app-based mobility service for conventionally driven Mercedes-Benz vehicles went into operation in the Bay Area in the fall of 2019. The service is also available in Berlin.

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