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Mercedes-Benz and Bosch are testing self-driving S-Classes in San Jose

The autonomous luxo-barges are part of a test program that hopes to develop a true Level 4 and 5 autonomous vehicle.

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Don't be surprised to see self-driving S-Classes wafting about the streets of San Jose, thanks to a Bosch/Benz partnership.

DaimlerAG - Global Communication

Many companies working on self-driving car projects seem to think that people want to be wafted about between destinations in some kind of living room-like pod thing. Sure, that idea will appeal to some consumers but I think there is a large, underrepresented group of people who just want to be carted around in a driverless Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

Thankfully for those people, German Tier 1 supplier Bosch and Mercedes are working on a self-driving car test platform that will ferry people between San Jose, California's West side and its downtown core along San Carlos Street and Stevens Creek Boulevard, and you bet your ass they're using the good ol' Sonderklasse to do it.

Now the rub is that Mercedes and Bosch isn't planning to make these trial cars available to just any geek off the street, and the joint press release issued by the companies doesn't specify who gets to use it beyond that they're "a select group of users." Those lucky few who are invited to use the service will book their rides via a special app developed by Daimler Mobility.

The goal of this public-ish test program is of course to develop the Holy Grail of autonomy: a working Level 4 and 5 self-driving car. For now though, the test vehicles will still employ an in-vehicle fallback test driver (IFTD) just in case things go pear-shaped. 

"It's not just the automated vehicles that have to prove their mettle. We also need proof that they can fit in as a piece of the urban mobility puzzle. We can test both these things in San Jose," said Dr. Uwe Keller, head of autonomous driving at Mercedes-Benz, in a statement.

The pilot program is already in operation. So don't be shocked, ye residents of San Jose, when you start seeing some particularly ballin' self-driving test vehicles cruising your streets.

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