[UPDATE] Sascha Pallenberg, Head of Digital Transformation at Daimler AG, denied the Redaktions Netzwerk Deutschland report on Twitter.
With Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas at the helm, Mercedes-Benz is currently employing a one-two punch in Formula 1, winning races and populating the podium quite frequently. Unfortunately, there’s a race that Mercedes won’t win – something that doesn’t involve drivers.
In a report by Redaktions Netzwerk Deutschland, Mercedes said that it’s withdrawing from the autonomous driving race. Take note that this doesn’t pertain to the level 3 self-driving tech found in the 2021 Mercedes S-Class, nor the recently announced partnership between Daimler and Waymo to produce driverless semis.
The target is level 5 autonomous driving for public use – something that Waymo unveiled in Phoenix in October with its self-driving robot taxi. For Mercedes, however, that was the target.
“We don’t compete in any race that we can no longer win,” a Mercedes spokesman told the German publication.
As early as five years ago, we’ve already heard about Mercedes-Benz developing self-driving cars. The first Mercedes autonomous bus was also revealed, completing a 20-kilometer route in Amsterdam without a human being behind the steering wheel. This had put the automaker ahead of the pact that’s chasing autonomous driving technology.
But that’s a thing of the past now as confirmed by Mercedes through its spokesman in the RND report. The company said that it will move away from that goal, citing a new business strategy for the marque. In Mercedes’ perspective, car-sharing isn’t a profitable business anymore. Level 4 autonomy, in relation to driver assistance in private cars, is still on the table, but a business model similar to Waymo won’t happen.
“Our investors don’t just expect sales, but also especially profit,” said Mercedes’ spokesperson.
In line with this, Mercedes’ boss Ola Källenius has cut research and development investments in autonomous mobility. The previously reported BMW and Mercedes-Benz joint development of self-driving cars has also been terminated – a mutual decision between the two German firms.