Daimler, Bosch to test automated ride hailing in San Jose, Calif.

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Mercedes-Benz

parent group

Daimler

and auto supplier

Bosch

say they’ve signed an agreement with the city of San Jose, Calif., to begin testing highly and fully

autonomous vehicles

in a ride-hailing pilot starting in the second half of 2019. The program will use

Mercedes S-Class

sedans fitted with Bosch’s self-driving hardware but still have steering wheels and a human at the wheel ready to take over when needed.

The

S-Class

cars will be classified as Level 4 and 5 automation, meaning high and full self-driving capabilities, with concepts and algorithms jointly developed by teams from both companies. The service will launch in the San Carlos and Stevens Creek corridor between downtown and west San Jose in California’s fast-growing and third-largest city.

Daimler Mobility Services will operate a mobile app users can use to summon rides, with the goal of providing information about how highly and fully

autonomous vehicles

can integrate with a multi-modal transportation network and improve traffic flow and safety. “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.

Tim Wieland, a spokesman for Bosch, said details about the number of fleet vehicles and hours of operation were yet to be determined, but he said the intention was to start the pilot and grow it. Daimler has been providing development vehicles and testing facilities for the test fleet, while Bosch has focused on components like sensors, actuators and control units. Both companies are using their test labs, rigs and sites in Germany.

The two companies

announced the test program last year

but gave few details, saying only that negotiations with a then-unidentified host municipality in Silicon Valley were underway. Bosch and Daimler first joined forces for

self-driving vehicle

technology in April 2017, with teams working together in both Stuttgart and Silicon Valley. Bosch says it was the first auto supplier to test Level 3 autonomous vehicles on public roads in Germany and the U.S. in 2013, while

Mercedes-Benz

has been testing self-driving vehicles in the Bay Area since it obtained a permit from California in 2014.

Autonomous vehicle testing has had a checkered recent history in the United States. Most notably, a self-driving

Volvo

operated by

Uber

Technologies

fatally struck a pedestrian in Arizona in March

.

Reuters

recently reported that the

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

is

working on revised rules

regulating the operation of fully self-driving cars. Meanwhile, Alphabet’s self-driving subsidiary Waymo recently became the first company to receive a permit from California to

test driverless vehicles without a backup driver

in the front seat. It plans to test about three dozen vehicles in Santa Clara County.

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