San Jose to begin a self-driving car shuttle
San Jose residents may soon see driverless cars shuttling passengers between downtown and Santana Row.
The Bay Area’s largest city announced Thursday that it has signed an agreement to launch an autonomous vehicle pilot project with MercedesBenz and Bosch.
The project is expected to kick off in the second half of 2019 as an ondemand ride-hailing service.
“San Jose is entering the demonstration agreement with an eye toward solving transportation challenges – like mitigating traffic and congestion – that are expected to intensify as the population grows 40 percent in the next 22 years,” John Ristow, the acting director of transportation, said in a statement.
Under the project, SClass sedans carrying two safety drivers who can take over in case of an emergency will ferry passengers along West San Carlos Street and Stevens Creek Boulevard.
Many of the specifics – who will be allowed to hail rides and where exactly the cars can go – are being worked out. And these won’t be the first driverless cars to hit San Jose’s streets. Waymo has been testing vehicles across the region, and Auto X launched a grocery delivery service in San Jose with self-driving cars.
But Mercedes-Benz and Bosch are the first companies to partner directly with the city in a move officials say will be mutually beneficial. The companies will be able to tap into the city’s interconnected traffic signal system, which will let them time trips better. And the city will gain access to data about traffic congestion and vehicle speed.
San Jose said it wanted to study driverless cars for a range of reasons, including reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and traffic deaths.