Germany’s oldest carmaker is making plans for a fleet of autonomous vehicles that customers can summon on demand, a response to the threat from Silicon Valley companies like Uber and Google that are pursuing their own driverless cars.
Dieter Zetsche, the CEO of Mercedes-Benz’s parent company, Daimler, told Reuters that the robotic limousine is “a concrete development goal.” Daimler already owns Car2Go, a mobile car rental service, and has developed a futuristic self-driving Mercedes-Benz prototype.
Fully autonomous cars aren’t expected to hit roads until 2025, according to a recent report from Boston Consulting Group. When they do, though, BCG predicts driverless taxi services could be 35% cheaper than conventional ones.
A host of companies, including BMW (which operates another car rental service called DriveNow) and perhaps even Apple, are all preparing for a future in which everyone is basically a backseat driver. Mercedes-Benz looks to be trying to differentiate itself with a more luxurious and privacy-conducive vehicle.