San Jose residents may soon see driverless cars shuttling passengers between downtown and Santana Row. The Bay Area’s largest city on Thursday announced it has signed an agreement to launch an autonomous vehicle pilot project with Mercedes-Benz and Bosch. The project is expected to kick off in the second half of 2019 as an on-demand…
San Jose residents may soon see driverless cars shuttling passengers between downtown and Santana Row.
The Bay Area’s largest city on Thursday announced it has signed an agreement to launch an autonomous vehicle pilot project with Mercedes-Benz and Bosch.
The project is expected to kick off in the second half of 2019 as an on-demand 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, S-Class sedans carrying two safety drivers who can take over in case of an emergency will ferry passengers along W. San Carlos Street and Stevens Creek Blvd.
Many of the specifics — like who will be allowed to hail rides and where exactly the cars can go — are still 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.
When it sought information last year from companies interested in participating in a pilot, San Jose said it wanted to study driverless cars for a range of reasons, including the possibility of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and traffic deaths.
While the original pilot project will be limited in scope, the city may consider expanding it in the future and testing out other routes, such as from Diridon Station to San Jose International Airport.
“Autonomous vehicles provide an opportunity to explore how to better meet the transportation needs of our diverse community — including our seniors, people with disabilities and other residents with limited transportation options,” Mayor Sam Liccardo said in a statement. “In addition, by collaborating with companies on real-world deployments, we’ll gain valuable data and insight that will help us prepare for the rapidly-approaching day when autonomous vehicles are a common sight on our streets.”