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Mercedes and Bosch autonomous shuttle project Photo: Supplied
 
 
David McCowen | Jul, 19 2018 | 0 Comments

Mercedes-Benz is set to run a self-driving shuttle trial in the US, capitalising on an expanded partnership with tech firm Bosch. 

The manufacturer announced on Wednesday it will operate fully automated, driverless vehicles in Silicon Valley near San Francisco, California, in the second half of 2019. 

Vehicles will run on carefully selected routes home to other traffic, to help determine how autonomous vehicles should interact with vehicles piloted by humans.

Customers will be able to hail a kobo-taxi in a similar manner to ordering an Uber ride, summoning an autonomous shuttle which will ferry them to their destination. Capable of taking more than one passenger at a time, the vehicles will learn key traffic patterns and popular routes used by commuters.

Mercedes-Benz is not the first company to operate public trials as Volvo and Nissan operate limited services in Sweden and Japan. The German brand intends to keep selling driveable cars to the public for the forseeable future, while fully driverless vehicles will be retained by the manufacturer or third parties and operated as a service to consumers.

An extended partnership between ‘Benz and Bosch will see staff from each company share facilities in Germany and the US, using NVidia computer chips capable of machine learning, or artificial intelligence, to teach future vehicles how to react to situations encountered in the real world.

Dr Uwe Franke, head of image semantics at Daimler, Mercedes’ parent company, says researchers have worked hard to teach autonomous vehicles how to recognise many different objects and situations by sight. 

By teaching cars to interpret their surrounds correctly, drawing on both real-world and simulator experience, Franke says future vehicles will be able to act decisively and correctly.

“One day the driving systems of our cars will have learned enough to know the right answer at once, even in complex situations, and respond accordingly,” he says.

“And driving computers do not get tired or lose concentration.”

 
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