Uber has formed a partnership with auto manufacturer Daimler to produce self-driving cars at some point in the future. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the likes of Volvo and Ford have also struck deals with Uber around autonomous vehicles for the ridesharing network.
“Auto manufacturers like Daimler are crucial to our strategy because Uber has no experience making cars — and, in fact, making cars is really hard,” said Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick. “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.”
The New York Times notes that this partnership isn’t exclusive and that it’s the first such arrangement Uber has made in which the auto maker will be building its own self-driving car without any help. As the automotive industry increasingly embraces autonomous vehicles, auto makers are finding that one way to really train the self-driving systems is to get them out on the road, which is where ridesharing services such as Uber come in. Now the vehicles will get tested across a variety of scenarios: on busy streets, in the rain or snow, on different terrain, and more. And tapping into Uber gives Daimler access to Uber’s extensive network, since it operates in so many cities across the world.
Uber stands to win as well, of course.
“By opening up the Uber platform to Daimler, we can get to the future faster than going it alone. It’s a future in which our cities and roads will be safer, cleaner, and more accessible, and we couldn’t be more excited about what’s next,” Kalanick stated.
Of course, Uber has also been experimenting with its own advancements around self-driving cars. The company has been researching the technology through its team at Carnegie Mellon, which has begun testing in Pittsburgh. Uber’s autonomous vehicles were even brought to San Francisco last year but were quickly rebuffed by California regulators, forcing Uber to divert the cars to Arizona — though they were eventually brought back to the Bay Area in a limited capacity.
It’s no secret that the company wants to advance self-driving cars. Kalanick has explained on occasion that the advancements will “help to reduce traffic accidents…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.”
Lyft has also dipped its toes into the space, striking a partnership with GM to explore driverless cars. John Zimmer, Lyft’s CEO has posited that we’ll see cars from his company hit the roads within the next 10 years.