Dec 14, 2020 - Economy

Zoox unveils a modern stagecoach for the driverless era

Image of Zoox robotaxi, which looks like a toaster on wheels

Zoox robotaxi in San Francisco. Photo: Zoox

Amazon-backed Zoox unveiled on Monday its version of the future of transportation: an autonomous electric vehicle with no steering wheel that might one day be summoned with a ride-hailing app.

Why it matters: It's an important milestone for Zoox, which has ambitious plans to launch an urban robotaxi service using purpose-built vehicles designed and built in-house. Those efforts received a boost in June when Amazon acquired the six-year-old startup for a reported $1.2 billion.

Details: At 12 feet long, the compact vehicle features carriage-style seating, with up to four passengers facing each other on two benches.

  • It can travel in either direction, with motors at each end and four-wheel steering to enable maneuvering in tight spaces.
  • The 133 kWh battery is among the largest in the industry, capable of operating 16 hours between charges.
  • For safety, it features innovative airbags that envelope passengers to keep them separated in a crash.
  • The vehicles features a combination of sensors, including cameras, radar, and lidar to obtain a 270-degree field of view on all four corners of the vehicle.

What they're saying: Zoox CEO Aicha Evans said the vehicle is an important milestone in the company's journey toward commercialization.

  • "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.”

What to watch: No word yet on when Zoox plans to launch its app-based ride-hailing service or how Amazon might employ the technology for delivery in the future.

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