Mercedes Tests Robo-Taxis in California

Steve Plumb

Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz unit has quietly begun testing Level 4 autonomous vehicles on public roads with consumer riders in California, Automotive News Europe reports.

The pilot program is said to be the first such tests for Daimler involving non-employees. A backup driver is onboard to take control of the vehicle if necessary.

The California fleet includes about 30 specially outfitted vehicles, mainly Mercedes S-Class sedans, according to ANE. A year ago Daimler and Robert Bosch GmbH announced plans to test automated vehicles in ride-hailing vehicles in San Jose, Calif.

Last month CEO Ola Kallenius said the company planned to focus its autonomous vehicle efforts on commercial trucks rather than robo-taxis. But the California tests allow the company to gather data about the technology—without duplicating its efforts—and user experiences, sources tell the online newspaper.

Daimler’s Mobility services unit is assisting in the pilot program to track consumer usage and acceptance versus traditional taxis and ride-hailing services.