The Fuse

Daimler-Bosch Deal Reflects Rapid Pace of Change in Autonomy

by Matt Piotrowski | April 06, 2017

Another major deal in the autonomous vehicle space is occurring, and it promises to accelerate the race to develop driverless cars. German automaker Daimler has teamed up with automotive tech and hardware supplier Bosch to bring fully autonomous vehicles onto roads by early next decade.

The two companies want to produce shared vehicles that will be utilized in cities. Riders will be able to hail cars using their smartphones and then be taxied around in the driverless car to their destination. The hope for the companies, and those who advocate for autonomous vehicles, is that this system will help relieve congestion in urban areas and boost access to mobility for those without cars and licenses.

“The project’s main aim is to make a driving system ready for production, as a result of which vehicles will be able to drive completely autonomously in cities.”

“The project’s main aim is to make a driving system ready for production, as a result of which vehicles will be able to drive completely autonomously in cities,” the companies said. “The idea behind it is that the vehicle will come to the driver, not the other way around.”

The Daimler-Bosch partnership comes on the heels of other relationships that are focused on developing autonomous technology, with arrangements increasing between auto companies, suppliers, and tech firms. Earlier this year, Daimler teamed up with Uber, which has been testing AVs on public roads but has come under scrutiny because of accidents involving its cars. Delphi and MobilEye have partnered, as have Volvo and Uber, while GM acquired Cruise Automation and teamed up with ride-hailing service Lyft.

“The whole driverless development so far has occurred faster than most have thought,” Michelle Krebs, Director of Automotive Relations for AutoTrader, told The Fuse. “And it is really going to accelerate in the next few years. Companies realize they can’t do it on their own.”

Daimler joining forces with Bosch makes sense, given that the two companies already have a relationship, and Bosch is one of the largest and most reliable suppliers of body electronics and powertrain systems in the world. At the same time, auto companies like Daimler need to have a two-pronged strategy moving forward, making it incumbent that they partner with others. “They have to make cars that make money today while also efficiently investing to make money down the road with autonomous vehicles,” said Krebs, noting that auto manufacturers have to focus their operations on their specialty—producing cars.

In Daimler’s statement, it said: “The technology will, among other things, boost the attraction of car sharing.” It’s becoming clearer that early deployment of AVs is expected to occur in fleets and through ride-sharing rather than through private ownership. However, despite consumer skepticism, once the general public becomes more comfortable with changes in auto technology and fully understand the safety benefits, overall perceptions should shift and the desire for AV ownership will likely grow.