Amazon-owned autonomous mobility company Zoox has unveiled its fully functional, electric, autonomous vehicle that is designed for dense, urban environments.
Zoox claims it 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, arguing that this will make the future “safer, cleaner, and more enjoyable for everyone”.
Designed and manufactured in the US, 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 3.63 metres 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.
Aicha Evans, Zoox CEO, says: “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.
“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.”
The vehicle design has more than 100 safety innovations not featured in conventional cars, including a novel airbag system for bidirectional vehicles and carriage seating that envelops passengers, which is equal to five-star crash safety protections for all four seats.
The vehicles utilize a unique sensor architecture of cameras, radar, and LIDAR to obtain an unrivaled 270-degree field of view on all four corners of the vehicle, eliminating typical blind spots and allowing the vehicle to consistently track objects next to and behind it, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and other road users.
Jesse Levinson, Zoox CTO and co-founder, says: “Safety is the foundation of everything we do. Building a vehicle from the ground-up has given us the opportunity to reimagine passenger safety, shifting from reactive to proactive measures.
“These include new safety features such as our airbag design, redundant hardware throughout the vehicle, a unique sensor architecture, and a custom AI stack that detects and mitigates potential risks.
“Our vehicle has passed key FMVSS crash tests, and we are continuing to look for new, innovative ways to protect our riders and others on the road.”
Zoox was founded in 2014 with a vision of purpose-built, zero-emissions vehicles designed for autonomous ride-hailing, along with an end-to-end autonomy software stack.
The company was acquired by Amazon in 2020, and operates as an independent subsidiary. Zoox is currently testing in Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Foster City.