Ola Kaellenius, Daimler AG's director of Group Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development, has been doing lots of interviews lately about the new S class and its sophisticated self-driving technology. He has also talked a bit about plans for fully autonomous Level 4 and 5 vehicles.
"We have Level 4 and 5 efforts going. I'm just going to bundle those in one bucket and call it a robot car that drives itself. And the most obvious use case for that in the beginning is a robot taxi.
"Why? It's phenomenally expensive to do this. The number of sensors you have to put on the car, the computing power and so on adds tens of thousands of dollars once you get it into production. Where do you have a business case for something like that? You have it in a robot taxi scenario, where you can take a city or a part of the city and say, 'OK, I'm going to put a hundred, 200, 300, a thousand ... into this area.'
"The amortization comes through not paying the driver. You could have a very quick amortization, so our effort on Level 4, 5 is robot taxi first. In our case the commercialization of that happens between 2020 and 2025 where we start rolling that out — either through our own mobility services that we're building up or as a partner with other mobility services."