Self-driving car companies have been testing their vehicles for years, but now regular riders are starting to catch rides in the robot cars.
Instead of merely watching a vehicle loaded with cameras, sensors, and other equipment drive by, some lucky folks (and not just company employees) are now able to experience the autonomy in person.
Waymo is sticking to its end-of-2018 timeline for a self-driving taxi service in Arizona. GM’s Cruise says 2019 is the year for a car service to drive San Franciscans around. And, in Dubai, a self-driving taxi service has already hit the streets.
Now, Daimler, the company that owns Mercedes-Benz, says it’s working with German auto parts company Bosch, to offer a self-driving car service for “select” riders in the San Jose area in the second half of 2019.
Autonomous Mercedes-Benz S-Class cars will drive passengers between west San Jose and downtown. Notably, San Jose is in the heart of Silicon Valley, south of San Francisco.
The Daimler-Bosch service will still have a safety driver present to monitor the trip, which riders can hail from an app. The car will then drive to the passenger, and take them to their chosen destination.
Details about who can use the service and how much it will cost weren’t immediately clear, but it’s considered a trial program as the companies gear up for a wider roll-out.
Both Daimler and Bosch have self-driving testing permits in California and have been testing in the state since its self-driving program opened up. In the latest disengagement report, Bosch reported testing through July 2017. Neither company has reported a crash involving an autonomous vehicle. The California DMV says as of this week, 113 collision reports have come into the department.