Amazon’s Zoox self-driving electric vehicle startup revealed a prototype of its robotaxi on Monday 14th December 2020. This robotaxi can ride up to 16 hours with a single charge.
Zoox vehicle is gotten rid of the steering wheel and brake pedal because it is a self-driving vehicle, these features are unnecessary when there’s no human driver.
This robotaxi has four seats, with passengers facing each other to make conversation easier. There is a sliding door on Zoox’s vehicle, similar to the Origin from Cruise.
It travels in either direction of around 75 miles per hour because it has a motor on both ends. There are two battery racks installed under both seats of around 133kWh — roughly twice the size of many electric vehicles sold today. The large battery also contributes to its hefty weight for its size of around 5,401 pounds.
Zoox chief technology officer Jesse Levinson said that “You want a robotaxi driving as much as possible, and idle as little as possible.”
Zoox was founded by Jesse Levinson and Tim Kentley-Klay in 2014 and acquired by Amazon earlier this year. Like all other self-driving vehicle companies, It has also faced many challenges for developing this robotaxi that’s safe enough to move on public roads.
Some of Zoox’s quirky-looking mint-green vehicles are already being built at a facility in Fremont, California. Executives of Zoox said that “The factory has the capacity to produce 10,000 to 15,000 units annually, Suppliers send the major components, the drive unit, body, battery pack and so on — pre-assembled, and Zoox then does final assembly in stages, a process it likens to building a Lego set.”
By referring to tests required by U.S. regulators Jesse Levinson said that “Unlike many of the concept cars other companies have shown in the last several years this vehicle has passed all the FMVSS crash tests”
They are currently testing its vehicle on private roads but declined to say where! Zoox is targeting to launch its service in Las Vegas and San Francisco. Testing is more difficult, as Zoox’s vehicle doesn’t have a steering wheel or brake and accelerator pedals. Other companies like Google’s Waymo, have already driven millions of miles on public roads. Human test drivers sit in the vehicles and take over if needed.
Zoox Chief Executive Officer Aicha Evans said that “This is really about re-imagining transportation, not only do we have the capital required, we have the long-term vision.”
In the video released on Monday 14th December, Evans used Zoox’s app to hail the vehicle outside San Francisco’s Fairmont hotel and took a spin around the block.
Evans said that the company Zoox also plans to launch ride-hailing services in other countries. Executives didn’t say the exact price of the rides but they would be affordable and competitive with services operated by Uber Technologies and Lyft Inc. The launch of the service is not mentioned but it has been confirmed that it would not happen in 2021.