The S-Class sedans to be used in the ride-hailing service will have at least Level 4 autonomy (Photo: Daimler)

Premium car group Daimler and automotive supplier Robert Bosch will start testing an on-demand ride hailing service that will use highly and fully automated Mercedes S-Class vehicles in San Jose, California. The tests are set to begin in the second half of 2019.

The two partners said they will offer the service to a “selected user community” in a specific part of San Jose. Daimler will equip the autonomous S-Class cars with their drive systems, while Bosch will provide components such as sensors, actuators and control units. The vehicles will have so-called level 4 and level 5 autonomy, but will have a safety driver on board.

The service can be booked with the help of a dedicated on-demand ride hailing app developed by Daimler Mobility Services. The app also provides access to Daimler’s car2go car-sharing unit, its mytaxi ride-hailing app and the moovel multi-modal platform, which is also operated by Daimler.

The intent is to provide a “seamless digital experience,” the carmaker said in a press release.

Automakers are stepping up their efforts to offer mobility services as an alternative to public transport and privately owned cars. Such services are expected to become growing sources of new revenue at a time when the future of traditional car sales is uncertain.

In addition, shared mobility is seen as the key to alleviating growing congestion problems in major cities.

“The pilot project is an opportunity to explore how autonomous vehicles can help us better meet future transportation needs,” San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo said in a statement.

Daimler and Bosch announced in April 2017 that they would form an alliance to develop a system for fully automated driverless vehicles. One of its goals was the rollout of “a production-ready system for urban automated taxis to navigate urban traffic.”