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'Reality check' on self-driving cars taking place at Daimler

The CEO of the German automaker said during an investor conference that self-driving cars are more challenging than once thought.

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Don't expect a driverless car to pick you up anytime soon.

Daimler

Despite their dreams of putting self-driving cars on the road sooner rather than later, numerous automakers and companies are finding out its a far slower process than they imagined. We can add Daimler, parent automaker of Mercedes-Benz, to that list.

The automaker's CEO, Ola Kallenius, reportedly said during an investor conference that there's been a "reality check" surrounding robotaxi fleets, according to a Reuters report on Thursday. In other words, the automaker isn't entirely sure how it can profit from operating an ecosystem of autonomous cars.

Mercedes-Benz did not immediately respond to a request for comment when asked for additional information on its self-driving car strategy in light of the CEO's comments.

Kallenius added that Daimler's engineering team has found it more challenging than expected to develop self-driving cars. These machines must protect passengers, pedestrians and navigate public roads without flaws, after all. We've seen one instance of an autonomous vehicle trial go awry after an Uber self-driving car prototype struck a pedestrian in Arizona last year. The crash highlighted the need for safety in all aspects when testing these new driverless vehicles.

Instead of passenger cars, the CEO said he imagines the first application of the technology will find its way to commercial vehicles such as semi trucks. Self-driving trucks could provide a boost to shipping efficiency for routes that involve long stretches of driving. Without a truck driver, there's no need to stop for breaks or find a place to sleep on even longer runs.

This isn't the first time a company has taken a step back from the optimistic timeframe for driverless-car technology. Back in April, Ford CEO Jim Hackett said the company overestimated how quickly self-driving technology would come to market.