It’s no secret that Uber wants to replace its drivers with autonomous vehicles in the near future, but even with billions of dollars in funding, there’s no way the company can develop the necessary technology on its own. That’s why Uber is in the process of finding a partner in the automotive industry that can supply it with as many autonomous vehicles as it needs, according to a report from Reuters on Friday. There aren’t any fully autonomous vehicles on the market at the moment, but the report claims that Uber is willing to settle for semi-autonomous vehicles for the time being.
Ride-hailing service Uber has sounded out car companies about placing a large order for self-driving cars, an auto industry source said on Friday. “They wanted autonomous cars,” the source, who declined to be named, said. “It seemed like they were shopping around.” Loss-making Uber would make drastic savings on its biggest cost — drivers — if it were able to incorporate self-driving cars into its fleet. Volkswagen’s Audi, Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz, BMW and car industry suppliers Bosch and Continental are all working on technologies for autonomous or semi-autonomous cars. Earlier on Friday, Germany’s Manager Magazin reported that Uber had placed an order for at least 100,000 Mercedes S-Class cars, citing sources at both companies. The top-flight limousine, around 100,000 of which Mercedes-Benz sold last year, does not yet have fully autonomous driving functionality. Another source familiar with the matter said no order had been placed with Mercedes-Benz. Daimler and Uber declined to comment. Auto industry executives are wary of doing deals with newcomers from the technology and software business who threaten to upend established business models based on manufacturing and selling cars.