Mercedes accelerates autonomous vehicle plans

Written by Hannah McGrath

Mercedes-Benz is pushing forward with efforts to be one of the first two companies developing self-driving vehicles to scale up the technology.

Speaking to German newspaper Welt am Sonntag over the weekend, the car manufacturer’s North American head of autonomous driving Christoph Schroeder acknowledged that Google is leading the field in autonomous vehicle technology with its Waymo division, which completed the highest number of test miles with its prototype vehicles.

Other car manufacturers and tech companies including Uber and Volkswagen have entered the race to develop scalable and safe self-driving technology with a view to rolling out fleets of autonomous taxis.

Schroeder said that Mercedes-Benz feels it needs to “be among the top two competitors who are in position to scale up the technology and bring it into series production”.

In November, UK business and energy secretary Greg Clark announced a series of three trials of self-driving vehicle services due to be rolled out to consumers in London and Edinburgh.

The projects will allow the public to ride autonomous buses on a 14-mile route across the Forth Bridge, as well as book self-driving taxis to travel around parts of London.

They selected trials will share a £25 million government grant through the fourth round of the Connected and Autonomous Vehicles Intelligent Mobility Fund.