Developers consider fully autonomous robotaxis as one of the ways to speed up and reduce the cost of passenger transportation in cities. At the same time, it is assumed that with the development of unmanned vehicles, travel in autonomous cars will become safer.
In the past two years, the startup Zoox has gone from a little-known company to a promising power of urban mobility. Led by Aicha Evans (CEO) and Jesse Levinson (CTO), the California-based company was one of several companies that develop autonomous vehicles in the world. With the announcement of the new autonomous bidirectional vehicle, Zoox is expected to rock the autonomous market and accelerate Amazon’s initiatives in this market.
The new robotaxi from Amazon subsidiary Zoox is designed to navigate urban environments, using bi-directional driving capabilities and a very small footprint to move through tight spaces. The fully functional, electric, purpose-built robotaxi is equipped with two motors at the front and rear, and its body is made symmetrical about a perpendicular axis.
At 3.63m long, the vehicle features a four-seat, face-to-face symmetrical seating configuration that eliminates the steering wheel and benches seating seen in conventional car designs. It 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.
Its more than 100 safety features include 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 robotaxi utilizes a unique sensor architecture of cameras, radar, and LiDAR to navigate its surroundings autonomously and can operate up to 75 mph (120 km/h).
“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,” said Aicha Evans, Zoox Chief Executive Officer. “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.“
According to Zoox, robotaxi trials are already underway in Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Foster City. The launch date for commercial operation is still unknown.