Amazon Shuttles Employees in Driverless Taxis on Public Roads

Amazon Shuttles Employees in Driverless Taxis on Public Roads

By Yehudit Garmaise

Has, which acquired the auto-taxi company “Zoox” in 2020 for an undisclosed sum, pulled ahead of Tesla in providing a fully autonomous vehicle?

While Tesla has an “Autopilot” mode, none of its cars are yet fully self-driving.

Last week, Amazon sent the first robotaxi, designed without human controls, to carry passengers on a successful trip on a public road, Amazon said.

The Zoox, which is a fully autonomous vehicle, doesn’t have a steering wheel, traditional controls, nor pedals, and it now serves to ferry Amazon employees along a mile-long route between Zoox’s two main buildings in Foster City, Calif, the company said in a statement.

Amazon first unveiled its robotaxi at the end of 2020 and has been conducting testing at its facilities ever since.

The gas-powered Zoox vehicles use sensors to power the self-driving technology.  

The robotaxi can carry four passengers who ride on two inward-facing rows of seats, and travels at a top speed of 35 miles per hour. 

Only time will tell whether Zoox vehicles are safe, and scrutiny of the technology over safety concerns is increasing.

Meanwhile, Amazon will continue to operate the automated shuttle for employees to travel between the company’s buildings, as the company seeks additional clearances to expand its driverless services to the public.

Zoox is not the only startup to launch a driverless taxi service. 

On February 3, General Motor’s startup company called, “Cruise” reported that it had received permission from California’s Department of Motor Vehicles to test its “Origin shuttle” on the state’s public roads, reported Bloomberg, which added that testing of the Origin shuttle has not yet begun.

photo credit: Flickr

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