German premium carmaker Daimler has announced a partnership with Uber to supply self-driving cars for the US ride-hailing company as the pair seeks to become leading players in the world of autonomous driving.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the two companies announced their tie-up, saying that Daimler planned to "introduce self-driving vehicles on Uber's global ridesharing network in the coming years." The statement, however, didn't reveal any financial details of the cooperation.
Daimler chief executive (CEO) Dieter Zetsche said that the "inventor of the automobile" would aim to become a leader in autonomous driving, which was "one of the most fascinating aspects of reinventing mobility."
San Francisco-based Uber has invested heavily in self-driving car technology in recent years and is currently piloting the use of autonomous vehicles in the US city of Pittsburgh. But it had no car-building experience, CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick admitted, which was why he was "opening up the Uber platform" to automakers like Daimler.
"Self-driving technology holds the promise of creating cities that are safer, cleaner and more accessible. But we can't get to that future alone," he said.
Uber is already working with Sweden-based Volvo Cars to develop self-driving cars for sale by 2021. It has already built a self-driving truck which successfully delivered a beer shipment in October.
German car industry expert Ferdinand Dudenhöffer predicted that the tie-up between Uber and Daimler wouldn't be the last in the sector. "It's almost to be expected. And Uber is sure to work with more car manufacturers in the future," he told the news agency AFP, adding that this would make "the world of tomorrow even more exciting."
Nearly all the major global automakers -including BMW, Volkswagen and Ford - are racing to get fully self-driving cars on the market in the next few years, often in cooperation with tech firms.
US car giant General Motors (GM) last year announced a $500-million (460-million-euro) investment in Uber's rival Lyft, while Google parent company Alphabet has partnered with Fiat Chrysler to develop self-driving cars.
The BMW group, which has partnered with US computer chip giant Intel, said earlier this month it plans to start testing self-driving vehicles on roads in the US and Europe by the end of the year.
uhe/hch (AFP, dpa)