Tech

Amazon Zoox unveils self-driving robotaxi

Key Points
  • Amazon's Zoox unveiled its self-driving robotaxi on Monday.
  • It's a "carriage-style" car, which means that passengers face each other.
  • The car can travel up to 75 miles per hour and can run up to 16 hours on a single charge.
Amazon's self-driving company Zoox unveiled its autonomous robotaxi on Monday.
Zoox

Amazon's self-driving vehicle company, Zoox, is taking the wraps off of its first robotaxi.

Zoox on Monday debuted an electric, fully driverless vehicle that's built for ride hailing. It's a "carriage-style" car, which means that passengers face each other and there's no space for a driver or passenger seat, since there's no steering wheel. It has space for up to four passengers.

Amazon acquired the six-year-old start-up in June and, at the time, gave few details about how it planned to use Zoox's technology. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has previously expressed enthusiasm around the auto industry and the company has been using self-driving trucks to haul some cargo. Over time, self-driving vehicles like those envisioned by Zoox could fit into Amazon's sprawling logistics network, by making last-mile delivery cheaper and faster than before.

Amazon acquired the seven-year-old start-up in June and, at the time, gave few details about how it planned to use Zoox's technology
Zoox

The robotaxi has a few features that set it apart from rivals like Alphabet's Waymo, GM's Cruise, Uber and Tesla. It has bidirectional driving capabilities and four-wheel steering, which allows it to change directions without the need to reverse and navigate in compact spaces.

An array of cameras, radar and lidar sensors are mounted on all four corners of the car, eliminating "typical blind spots" and giving it a 270-degree field of view on the road. The car can travel up to 75 miles per hour and can run up to 16 hours on a single charge. It's also equipped with an airbag system on all four seats.

Zoox's autonomous carriage has space for up to four passengers.
Zoox

The vehicle is designed for ride-hailing in urban environments. Zoox said it's currently testing in three cities — Las Vegas, Nevada; Foster City, California; and San Francisco, California.

The company plans to launch an app-based ridesharing service. Its first target markets will be San Francisco and Las Vegas, Zoox said.

"Zoox is the first in the industry to showcase a driving, purpose-built robotaxi capable of operating up to 75 miles per hour," the company told CNBC in a statement. "While our vehicle is not ready for commercial use yet, this marks a key milestone towards our vision of building an autonomous robotaxi fleet and ride-hailing service."

It comes after GM's Cruise subsidiary unveiled its own driverless shuttle, called Origin, in January. Like Zoox's vehicle, it doesn't have manual controls like pedals or a steering wheel.

VIDEO12:3012:30
Why we don't have self-driving cars yet