Zoox, a self-driving tech startup acquired by Amazon for $1.2 billion, unveils its first autonomous robotaxi
We first covered Zoox back in July 2018 when the self-driving tech startup raised a massive $500 million at a $3.2 billion valuation. Then in June, Amazon acquired Zoox in a deal valuing the autonomous-car startup at a little over $1.2 billion. The San Francisco-based Zoox is an AI robotics company that provides mobility-as-a-service and self-driving car services.
Many experts said Amazon made the acquisition to integrate Zoox’s technology into its distribution network than building a fleet of cars. Over the years, however, Amazon has been expanding aggressively into self-driving technology. Early last year, Amazon participated in the $530 million funding round of another self-driving car startup, Aurora Innovation.
Now almost six months after its Amazon acquisition, Zoox on Monday debuted an electric, fully driverless vehicle that’s built for ride-hailing. It’s a “carriage-style” vehicle with more than 100 proprietary safety innovations. It means that passengers face each other and there’s no space for a driver or passenger seat. The robotaxi has no steering wheel and comes with space for up to four passengers.
Zoox is the first in the industry to showcase a driving, purpose-built robotaxi capable of operating up to 75 miles per hour. Since its inception in 2014, Zoox has combined artificial intelligence, robotics, vehicle design, and sustainable energy to bring its vision of reinventing personal transportation to life — making the future safer, cleaner, and more enjoyable for everyone.
Designed and manufactured in the U.S., Zoox is the only vehicle to offer bidirectional driving capabilities and four-wheel steering, which enables maneuvering through compact spaces and changing directions without the need to reverse. At 3.63m long, the vehicle has one of the smallest footprints in the automotive industry. The vehicle features a four-seat, face-to-face symmetrical seating configuration that eliminates the steering wheel and bench seating seen in conventional car designs. The vehicle also features a 133 kWh battery, one of the largest available in electric vehicles today, allowing it to operate for up to 16 continuous hours on a single charge.
“Revealing our functioning and driving vehicle is an exciting milestone in our company’s history and marks an important step on our journey towards deploying an autonomous ride-hailing service,” said Aicha Evans, Zoox Chief Executive Officer. “We are transforming the rider experience to provide superior mobility-as-a-service for cities. And as we see the alarming statistics around carbon emissions and traffic accidents, it’s more important than ever that we build a sustainable, safe solution that allows riders to get from point A to point B.”
Zoox was founded in 2014 Tim Kentley-Klay and Dr. Jesse Levinson before the company was acquired by Amazon in June 2020. Operating at the intersection of design, computer science, and electro-mechanical engineering, Zoox is a multidisciplinary team working to imagine and build an advanced mobility experience that will support the future needs of urban mobility for both people and the environment. The 6-year-old self-driving Zoox has raised $955 million in venture-backed funding.