Following its partnership with Uber earlier this year, Daimler is making more inroads in the ride-sharing space through a newly announced partnership with US-based startup Via. The collaboration will see Mercedes-Benz vans take to the streets of London later this year as part of an on-demand service shuttling folks around the city.
Via is a New York based ride-sharing service that aims to develop dynamic, on-demand networks of ride-sharing vehicles that take some of the strain off current transport systems. It is based on a smartphone app through which users can request rides and have an algorithm find them a vehicle and the best route to the destination.
Algorithms of this type could have a huge impact on urban traffic as ride-sharing services gain traction. An MIT study earlier this year found that an AI-based algorithm could replace New York City's 14,000 or so taxis with 3,000 ride-sharing vehicles, all without significantly impacting travel time.
Via claims to already provide over one million rides per month through its services in New York, Chicago and Washington D.C, and now it is making a move into Europe with the help of Daimler. The two will set up a new headquarters in Amsterdam to that end, with the automotive giant investing US$50 million into the new joint venture, while also providing Mercedes-Benz Vito Tourer and V-Class vans.
The service is slated to begin in London later in the year, with other European cities to follow.