Taxi drivers, particularly in Europe and up to now staunch Mercedes-Benz customers, will have been stunned by this recent announcement: Daimler and Uber have announced a partnership that will see the automaker introduce its own self-driving cars for use on Uber’s ride sharing service, TechCrunch reports. The team-up is the second alliance Uber has struck with a car maker in pursuit of its goal of delivering self-driving service to users, the first of which was struck with Volvo and resulted in the XC90 self-driving test car that serves as Uber’s latest prototype.
Uber CEO Kalanick points out a debate between himself and Daimler Chairman Dr. Dieter Zetsche that occurred during a ‘Future of Transportation’ talk hosted by publisher Axel Springer in Berlin last year in his announcement, noting that while the two disagreed in some respects, he was “personally impressed” with the German carmaker.
This partnership is different from Uber’s arrangement with Volvo, however, in that Daimler will own and operate its vehicles itself, while taking advantage of Uber’s technology and ride-sharing network services. Uber tells TechCrunch this is the first time it’s announcing its role as an “open self-driving vehicle platform,” wherein car makers can bring their own vehicles to the network to operate them. It’s a little like what Tesla intends to offer for drivers of its own cars, but targeted at automaker fleets and open to all car makers.
- Strong chemistry between Daimler’s Zetsche and Uber’s Kalanick in Berlin last year led to the new partnership.