Zoox, owned by Amazon tests robotaxi on public roads.

Zoox, a self-driving vehicle unit of Amazon.com, said on Monday it has successfully tested a robotaxi in which passengers were the employees of the company. The vehicle was tested on a public road in a move to bring it closer to commercial service for the public.

On Feb. 11, a test was conducted between two Zoox buildings which are a mile apart at its headquarters in Foster City, California. It was part of the launch of a no-cost employee shuttle service that will also help the company refine its technology.

The automated vehicle segment of the industry has not rolled as fast as it was originally expected as the technology has proven tough to master. Ford Motor Co and Volkswagen AG announced last fall that they would shutter their Argo AI self-driving unit and focus on the technology of driver-assistance that provided more immediate returns.

General Motors CO’s Cruise unit and Alphabet Inc’s Wayno are among the companies pursuing the development of this technology.

Zoox’s robotaxi is a fully autonomous vehicle built from scratch instead of retrofitting existing cars for self-driving. It comes without a steering wheel and pedals and could accommodate four passengers, with two passengers facing each other.

Amazon bought Zoox for $1.3 billion in 2020. It has been aggressively expanding into self-driving technology.

Fears of a global recession sparked by rapid interest rate hikes and weak consumer demand, forced many companies to layoff their workforce. Automakers and tech giants couldn’t escape this too and a large number of layoffs could be seen by these companies.

The company has been careful about its growth but still on track to reach 2,500 employees this year coming up from 2,000 employees at the beginning of the year, said Jesse Levinson, Zoox’s tech chief.

source : reuters.com


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