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Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Amazon-backed Zoox unveils its first autonomous robotaxi

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Amazon-backed autonomous vehicle startup Zoox has finally unveiled its first driver-less robotaxi. According to an official press statement, the robotaxi has been designed and manufactured in the US. Zoox offers bidirectional driving capabilities and four-wheel steering, which enables manoeuvring through compact spaces and changing directions without the need to reverse.
The robotaxi is about 3.63m long, which makes the vehicle to have 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.
The vehicle has 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 feature a unique sensor architecture of cameras, radar, and LIDAR to obtain 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.
“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,” said Jesse Levinson, Zoox Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder. “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 but in 2020 was acquired by Amazon for close $1.3 billion. It’s not clear whether Amazon will use these vehicles for its logistics business or not.

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