In an attempt to overtake its rivals, including Google and Apple, Uber has joined forces with Germany’s Daimler AG – maker of the luxury Mercedes-Benz cars – to create a fleet of self-driving cars.
Daimler is the first auto company to join Uber as it opens up its platform for manufacturers to introduce their own self-driving cars.Uber will not own or manage the Daimler cars, but will simply let the cars become part of its fleet.
“Under the terms of the cooperation, Daimler plans to introduce self-driving vehicles… on Uber’s global ridesharing network in the coming years,” the companies said in a joint statement.Uber did not offer a specific timeline.
Relationships with automakers are imperative to the San Francisco company’s self-driving car efforts.Although the ride-hailing service is pouring resources into developing autonomous technology – a key component of its business strategy to rely less on human drivers – it is not equipped to build the cars itself.
“Of course, we can’t do it alone. Auto manufacturers like Daimler are crucial to our strategy because Uber has no experience making cars – and in fact, making cars is really hard.
“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.
“That’s why instead of building them ourselves, we want to partner with the best auto manufacturers in the world.
“We can combine Uber’s global ridesharing network with the world-class vehicles of companies like Daimler, so that Uber riders can have a great experience getting around their cities.”
“Such alliances are increasingly common between automakers and startups, as more traditional vehicle manufacturers perceive Silicon Valley firms as threats to their industry,” Uber Chief Executive Travis Kalanick said in a blog post.
Uber currently has self-driving car pilots available to riders in Pennsylvania and Arizona.The newest cars in those fleets are Volvos, the result of a $300 million (£240 million) deal between the two companies to develop autonomous cars together.
The Volvos are equipped with self-driving technology created by Uber.However, unlike the Volvo deal, Uber will not own or manage the Daimler cars, and it will not be involved in the research and development of the self-driving technology for those cars.
Rather, it is opening up its fleet to include Mercedes-Benz cars.“As the inventor of the automobile, Daimler aims to be a leader in autonomous driving – one of the most fascinating aspects of reinventing mobility,” Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said in the statement.