Mercedes’ parent company, Daimler, announced today an important partnership with German auto supplier Bosch to develop self-driving technology aimed at the taxi and ridesharing industries.

The agreement includes the goal to reach level 4 and 5 autonomous driving systems “by the start of the next decade” – 2020-2021 – which is in line with each company’s previous timelines for autonomous driving. 

Daimler and Bosch, both Germany-based companies, have been developing self-driving technologies on their own and through different partnerships in the industry, but this new alliance appears to be a more important step for each company.

They wrote in a press release today:

“The objective is the joint development of software and algorithms for an autonomous driving system. The project will take the comprehensive vehicle expertise of Daimler – the world’s leading premium-class automaker – and combine it with the systems and hardware expertise of Bosch, the world’s biggest automotive supplier. The synergies that arise as a result will be channeled into making this technology ready for production as early as possible.”

Bosch has probably the most impressive self-driving program out of the two companies right now. They supply parts, like the radar antenna, for Tesla’s Autopilot program and they used Tesla’s vehicles to develop their own self-driving software on an updated hardware suite.

Last year, they deployed a Tesla Model S self-driving prototype in Australia and they showed a new Model S prototype with similar capabilities as Tesla’s Enhanced Autopilot.

On the other hand, Daimler has been working on self-driving with the gradual approach of implementing autonomous driver assist features in its vehicles – like the level 2 features in the Mercedes E-Class.

The company has been working with suppliers like Mobileye, Tesla’s former Autopilot supplier, to deliver the system.

But the goal of the partnership looks beyond level 2 driving and leapfrogs the level 3 to reach level 4 and 5, which are fully autonomous driving systems in some and all conditions respectively. Those levels of autonomous driving are essential to create any driverless taxi service or ride-sharing service, which seem to be the goal here.

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