Amazon’s Zoox debuts self-driving robotaxi

Photo (c) Scharfsinn86 - Getty Images

The car has no steering wheel or space for a driver

Amazon’s self-driving vehicle company, Zoox, has unveiled an autonomous robotaxi specifically designed to navigate dense urban areas. 

The vehicle has no steering wheel or space for a driver, but it can accommodate up to four passengers. It has four-wheel steering and bidirectional driving capabilities, meaning there’s no defined front; the vehicle can change directions without having to reverse. 

For enhanced safety, the vehicle has cameras, radar, and lidar sensors mounted on each of its four corners. Zoox says this expands its range of views and eliminates “typical blind spots.” The vehicle is also equipped with an airbag system, and Zoox says all four seats get the equivalent of five-star crash safety protection.

The startup’s robotaxi can reach speeds up to 75 miles per hour, and a single charge will provide about 16 hours of run time. 

Investing in autonomous vehicles

Zoox was acquired by Amazon in June. At the time, Amazon didn’t provide many details about what it planned to do with Zoox’s technology. However, CEO Jeff Bezos has said in the past that autonomous vehicle technology has the potential to be integrated into its delivery system. Amazon has already started using autonomous trucks to transport some goods.

Zoox said on Monday that it’s already testing the new robotaxis in Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Foster City, California. The company plans to launch an app-based ridesharing service, similar to Uber and Lyft, in the future. 

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