Uber opens its network to self-driving cars, starting with Daimler

A new partnership with the owner of Mercedes-Benz marks the beginning of Uber's 'open platform.'

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Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler has agreed to eventually roll out a fleet of self-driving vehicles on the Uber network, in the hope of making ridesharing safer and more environmentally friendly. To be clear, Daimler doesn't currently have any self-driving vehicles on the market, but it's working on a line due out "in the coming years," according to Uber.

Uber has a similar partnership in place with Volvo. Uber's fleet of customized, self-driving Volvo XC90 SUVs is currently rolling around Arizona, after the California DMV revoked the company's rights to operate in San Francisco back in December.

However, Uber's partnership with Daimler differs from the Volvo deal in a key way: Daimler will own and operate its vehicles independently, and simply use Uber's technology and ridesharing network services, TechCrunch reports. This is the first stage of Uber's "open self-driving vehicle platform," the company says.

"Auto manufacturers like Daimler are crucial to our strategy because Uber has no experience making cars -- and in fact, making cars is really hard," Uber CEO Travis Kalanick says in a blog post. "This became very clear to me after I visited an auto manufacturing plant and saw how much effort goes into designing, testing and building cars. That's why instead of building them ourselves, we want to partner with the best auto manufacturers in the world."

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