Daimler to Bring Self-Driving Mercedes-Benz Cars to Uber

Fleet managers test out the 2017 E-Class in July. Photo by Paul Clinton.
Fleet managers test out the 2017 E-Class in July. Photo by Paul Clinton.

Daimler will eventually offer self-driving Mercedes-Benz vehicles on Uber's ride-hailing platform under a new partnership between the two companies announced Jan. 31.

The companies didn't announce a specific timetable for the arrival of the vehicles, beyond Daimler's plan to add them to the Uber network "in the coming years." The vehicles will be offered in many of Uber's 74 global markets.

The move fits in with Daimler's corporate strategy called CASE, an acronym for Connected, Autonomous, Shared & Services, and Electric. In January of 2016, Mercedes-Benz earned a test license for autonomous driving with its 2017 E-Class on Nevada roads.

"Mobility service providers offer an ideal platform for autonomous driving technology and Uber is a leading mobility platform company," said Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars.

Uber's co-founder Travis Kalanick said the company views autonomous vehicles as a way to "further our mission of bringing reliable transportation to everyone, everywhere. They will also help to reduce traffic accidents, which today kill many people a year; free up the huge amount of space currently used to park the world’s billion-plus cars; and cut congestion, which is choking our cities."

Uber has elected not to attempt to manufacture self-driving vehicles, and instead partner with automakers such as 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," Kalanick wrote in a blog post. "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."

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