Daimler and Bosch announce alliance to develop self-driving cars

Look out, Uber: Mercedez-Benz is working with a new partner to fill future city streets with autonomous robo-taxis.

Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, has teamed up with major automotive supplier Bosch for the latest big-name partnership in the self-driving car game. The two companies will work together in a “development alliance” with the goal of creating systems that will make street-ready autonomous vehicles a reality by 2020.

The Daimler-Bosch efforts have more than just the development of the self-driving cars in mind — the endgame is the creation of an entire shared autonomous mobility system for cities, populated by the aforementioned robo-taxis that can be hailed by riders with a smartphone command.

The companies will work more specifically to develop systems for Level 4 and Level 5 autonomy. The Level 4 cars will be totally automated, but will still depend on a human driver to take control in certain situations, while the Level 5 vehicles will be truly driverless. 

Some experts believe the road to self-driving success will be driven by traditional automakers instead of Silicon Valley upstarts …

Bosch has been busy building relationships lately. Just last month, the German conglomerate announced a partnership with chipmaker Nvidia to create a standalone self-driving car system by 2020.  

Nvidia has an existing relationship with Mercedes-Benz, too, so a three-way team-up doesn’t sound too farfetched. (No terms have been disclosed for either deal.) A Bosch rep assured us via email that the Daimler-Bosch alliance and the Nvidia-Bosch partnership won’t overlap, though — at least not directly. 

“The specific AI computer with the NVIDIA chip addresses this broadly for Bosch on the topic of highly automated driving. Cooperation between Bosch and other customers on highly automated driving continues and the AI computer applies in that work,” they said.

Uber’s self-driving development efforts, which are aimed at achieving the same goal of shared autonomous mobility, have, to put it lightly, hit some rough patches lately.

Some experts believe the road to self-driving success will be driven by traditional automakers instead of Silicon Valley upstarts, even as companies like Tesla and Intel make as much noise in the space as the old giants. Bosch now has ties to both sides, though, so no matter what, it’s likely primed for a strong finish.  

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