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Daimler and Bosch to Test Self-Driving Taxis Next Year

The German companies follow in the footsteps of Waymo and GM's Cruise

1 min read
Illustration of self driving cars in a city
Illustration: Bosch

Daimler and Bosch say they’ll test a self-driving car in a ride-hailing service in California in 2019.

The two German companies didn’t say which model Mercedes car or SUV they’ll use, only that the first self-driving taxis will put safety drivers behind the wheel, just in case, and will incorporate Pegasus, Nvidia’s self-driving hardware and software package. According to Automotive News, later iterations of the car will use a Bosch system based on Nvidia hardware.

There’s a lot the companies didn’t say. For one, they haven’t selected the city in California where the program is to roll out. For another, they haven’t specified which sensors the cars will have, and how many of each kind. Nor do they dwell on whether ride sharing is the long-term model for usage or just a convenient means of testing equipment that, in the pre-mass-market stage, must remain too expensive to buy, even if you’re a Mercedes customer.

The program seems part of a bandwagon effect sparked by Waymo, the industry leader. Waymo designs all its own software and not a little of its hardware—for instance, it makes its own lidar sensors. Waymo’s been running a ride-hailing service for some time, and late last year it became the first company to manage the job without a safety driver behind the wheel.

GM’s Cruise says that it, too, will ditch the driver in its pilot ride-sharing program next year. Drive.ai is about to start shuttling passengers around a town near Dallas, though it will employ safety drivers for some time to come.

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We Need More Than Just Electric Vehicles

To decarbonize road transport we need to complement EVs with bikes, rail, city planning, and alternative energy

11 min read
A worker works on the frame of a car on an assembly line.

China has more EVs than any other country—but it also gets most of its electricity from coal.

VCG/Getty Images
Green

EVs have finally come of age. The total cost of purchasing and driving one—the cost of ownership—has fallen nearly to parity with a typical gasoline-fueled car. Scientists and engineers have extended the range of EVs by cramming ever more energy into their batteries, and vehicle-charging networks have expanded in many countries. In the United States, for example, there are more than 49,000 public charging stations, and it is now possible to drive an EV from New York to California using public charging networks.

With all this, consumers and policymakers alike are hopeful that society will soon greatly reduce its carbon emissions by replacing today’s cars with electric vehicles. Indeed, adopting electric vehicles will go a long way in helping to improve environmental outcomes. But EVs come with important weaknesses, and so people shouldn’t count on them alone to do the job, even for the transportation sector.

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