- Amazon-owned autonomous-taxi company Zoox unveiled its first vehicle Monday.
- Zoox designed the vehicle for cramped city streets, giving it the ability to drive in both directions and steer with all four wheels.
- The electric vehicle can travel 16 hours between charging, Zoox said.
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After six years in business, Zoox – Amazon’s autonomous vehicle company – unveiled its first self-driving taxi.
The firm on Monday took the wraps off of an electric “purpose-built robotaxi” that it developed for its future ride-hailing service. The “carriage-style” vehicle has two bench seats that face one another and accommodates up to four passengers. It’s designed to be fully self-driving and doesn’t have a steering wheel.
Zoox developed the vehicle to shuttle passengers around in dense urban environments. As such, it’s only 143 inches long – shorter than a Mini Cooper. It also has bidirectional-driving capabilities and four-wheel steering, which enables it to maneuver in small spaces and change directions without needing to reverse.
The taxi has a top speed of 75 mph and can travel up to 16 hours on a full charge of its 133 kWh battery.
With a system of lidar, radar, and cameras mounted at all four corners, Zoox said its vehicle eliminates “typical blind spots” and allows for a 270-degree view at each corner.
Zoox hasn’t revealed when it will launch its ride-hailing service but confirmed to Bloomberg that it won’t be in 2021. The company is currently testing its technology in Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Foster City.
Zoox is one of several companies sprinting to bring autonomous vehicles to city streets. This year, Waymo and GM’s Cruise announced plans to begin testing fully driverless cars to the streets of Phoenix and San Francisco, respectively.
And Cruise revealed its own dedicated, autonomous six-passenger vehicle called the Origin in January. But many major players integrate their automated-driving technology into existing cars – so Zoox’s new taxi sets the company apart in that respect.
The vehicle’s debut comes as the autonomous-vehicle space has started to consolidate – the industry is coming to terms with how challenging it is to develop driverless cars without immense financial resources.
Amazon bought Zoox for a reported $1.2 billion earlier this year, and Aurora Innovation announced it would acquire Uber’s self-driving division, Uber ATG, this month.