Yesterday was a Monday, which meant it was time for another startup to roll-out an autonomous vehicle prototype with promises to transform mobility.
Amazon-owned Zoox, the AV venture it acquired earlier this year, introduced its robotaxi pod car. Think a ski gondola on wheels.
The Zoox robotaxi features two rows of face-to-face seating (à la train car seating), a pair of bus-like double-doors, and a symmetrical, boxy aesthetic.
The vehicle is loaded with practical features including bi-directional driving capabilities (it doesn’t go in reverse), a 270-degree field of view, and a top speed of 75 miles per hour.
Amazon To The Rescue
Founded in 2014, Zoox has had its fair share of ups and downs— at one point reaching a valuation of $3 billion, according to the New York Times.
With the pandemic roiling the economy in March of this year, it’s fair to say the company was in a down swing. “We definitely thought we could be dead,” Zoox chief executive Aicha Evans told the New York Times. “But a crisis like that can also focus you to seek out investors who have a long-term mind-set that this kind of technology requires.”
And an investor they found. Specifically, a $1.2 billion acquisition from Amazon. While Amazon and Zoox remain committed to developing the technology as a taxi and Uber competitor, it isn’t hard to imagine the eCommerce titan utilizing the tech for future delivery services.
A small fleet of prototypes are currently deployed for private road testing in Las Vegas, San Francisco and Foster City.