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Uber will use self-driving Daimler cars... eventually... probably

The deal with Mercedes' parent company is yet another step toward Uber's goal of not having to do pesky things like pay humans.

CNET takes a ride in the autonomous Mercedes-Benz F 015 concept.
Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Ford and Volvo won't be alone in providing self-driving cars to Uber in the future, thanks to a new partnership with Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz.

Eventually, Daimler will lend Uber its self-driving vehicles to help flesh out its autonomous ride-sharing operations. There's not actually a timetable yet -- Uber only said it would happen in "the coming years," and who the hell knows how long that'll take?

Before Daimler starts operating autonomous cars in Uber's fleet, it must first build a, you know, autonomous car. Concepts like this don't count.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

This announcement isn't exactly earth-shattering, but it reinforces the point that Uber has no interest in spending the money to engineer its own vehicles. It already relies on cars from Ford and Volvo at the moment, and CEO Travis Kalanick admitted in a post on Uber's site that making cars is "really hard." It's also quite expensive.

Uber hasn't had the best luck with its self-driving fleet -- at least in California. After introducing a fleet of Volvo XC90s equipped with autonomous capabilities, the ride-sharing titan ended up in hot water with the California DMV, which claimed Uber broke the law in doing what it did, as it didn't have the correct permit.

Uber took a hardline stance against the DMV's ruling, and it continued to operate its vehicles on California roads. The DMV eventually revoked the registration of 16 of Uber's cars, so Uber packed up its toys and moved to Arizona, where the cars were reportedly welcomed.

As for Daimler, it hasn't made many moves into autonomy yet. The German company has several concepts in the works, from a self-driving Freightliner to its futuristic F015 concept. The closest the company's come to even semiautonomy in a production vehicle is its Drive Pilot suite of driver assistance systems. It came under fire last year for producing ads that might have led buyers to think the car was more capable than it was.

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