The swarming impact of modern information technology has transformed all aspects of our lives, but its incorporation in the field of vehicles and transportation is obvious and apparent as Steve Jobs said.
Let’s go invent tomorrow instead of worrying about what happened yesterday
Following the same motto, ZOOX, a brand of autonomous cars, has finally invented its robotaxi after a long period of confidentiality and secrecy. An interesting feature about this robotaxi is that Amazon bought it in June. So stay with us to know why Amazon thinks it might be the cornerstone of a fledgling autonomous ride-hailing service.
Zoox is one of 62 companies with a permit to test self-driving cars in California, according to the state Department of Motor Vehicles, although most operate in the shadow of Alphabet Inc’s business unit Waymo, which began work on the technology a decade ago. An autonomous car called driverless carriage or robotaxi has been revealed by ZOOX, a self-driving car company. This driverless carriage is an all-electric four-wheeler that seats up to four people, is also similar in appearance to fully self-driving vehicles created by other companies in the space and while it broadly resembles other first-generation self-ruling vehicles from automakers and Silicon Valley startups, Zoox’s robotaxi, a fully autonomous electric vehicle with no steering wheel that can drive day and night on a single charge. Zoox has remained secretive about its progress until recently. This week, the company published its first safety assessment, providing details about its sensors, hardware, and testing.
The vehicle, which Zoox describes as a driverless carriage or robotaxi, can carry as many as four passengers. With a motor at each end, it travels in either direction and maxes out at 75 miles per hour. Two battery packs, one under each row of seats, generate enough juice for 16 hours of run time before recharging, the company said. To commercialize the technology, Zoox plans to launch an app-based ride-hailing service in cities like San Francisco and Las Vegas. Zoox Chief Executive Officer Aicha Evans said in an interview “Not only do we have the capital required, but we also have the long-term vision. It is really about re-imagining transportation. Amazon bought this startup in June for an undisclosed sum. Zoox is one of several companies racing to put fully autonomous vehicles on the road, an effort that’s taking longer than anticipated. Most are testing retrofitted conventional cars on public roads, and few are deployed commercially. The company also plans to launch ride-hailing services in other countries, Evans said. Executives didn’t say how much rides would cost but that they would be affordable and competitive with services operated by Uber technologies. Nor did they say when the service would launch but confirmed it wouldn’t happen in 2021. Zoox will also need a California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) permit for deploying a paid robotaxi service. CPUC announced a new program on November 19, 2020, that allows paid robotaxi services. Hence Zoox should be able to get such a permit in 2021. Zoox will also need about a year’s worth of robotaxi testing before a robotaxi service should be launched. Zoox will probably launch its robotaxi service first in Foster City and my best guess is that will happen in mid-2022. San Francisco should be next, and this could happen in late 2022.
Autonomous-Car Startup Zoox Seeks $252 Million in Funding
Technology companies and automakers are racing to build cars capable of driving without human intervention. Interest in such vehicles has helped spur demand for artificial intelligence and automotive professionals. Driverless-car development is a costly endeavor, which could deter some venture capitalists. Zoox, a secretive autonomous-driving startup in Silicon Valley, is seeking to raise as much as $252 million in funding, according to a securities filing. According to an analysis by venture-capital research firm VC Experts If the fundraising is successful; the investment could give Zoox a valuation of more than $1 billion, according to an analysis by venture-capital research firm VC Experts. While Zoox has said very little about what it’s working on, it’s the only startup with a license to operate autonomous vehicles on the road in California. Zoox, based in Foster City in Silicon Valley, was founded in 2014 and acquired by Amazon in June. It operates as an independent subsidiary at Amazon.
Amazon has also teamed up with blackberry to create IVY, a cloud computing platform that cars cloud links for services and insights based on data from vehicles and users. IVY can also be used by any car maker to analyze sensor data in real-time and give drivers useful information. The Wall Street Journal earlier reported details of Zoox’s fundraising. The newspaper said Hong Kong-based AID Partners Capital Holdings Ltd. invested $20 million into the round and that Zoox has 140 employees, including former Alphabet, Apple, and Tesla workers. Before it went quiet, Zoox showed off sporty renderings of a concept car, one with a low roof and no windshields, designed to drive in both directions. Inside, passengers sit facing each other, like in a train compartment. Zoox is looking to create driverless cars for a ride-hailing service similar to Uber, according to a report last year in the trade publication IEEE Spectrum.
ZOOX CLAIMS A TOP SPEED OF 75 MILES PER HOUR, HINTING AT HIGHWAY USE
To explicate it further, ZOOX has spent almost the hard work of six years on this autonomous vehicle with the ability to drive both forward and backward, and side to side, or “bi-directionally and it is combined with four-wheel steering functionality. Tight curbside pickups and tricky U-turns will also handle by its vehicles, said ZOOX.
Zoox also claims its vehicle is the first of its kind to be able to travel at up to 75 mph; a possible nod to ambitions to one day put the vehicles on the highway. However, this is probably a future feature and would require lidars with a longer range than the current model.
The robotaxi dimension makes it a small car, but lots of room inside without driving controls. It looks like it is roomy for four passengers. The dimensions are nearly 12 feet long, nearly six feet wide, and over six feet tall. The weight is quite high for a small vehicle at 5,400 pounds. This is due to the weight of its large battery. The robotaxi is powered by a 133kWh battery pack, which is a little bigger than the packs that currently power Tesla’s most capable vehicles. Zoox says these battery packs will last for 16 hours of continuous use. There are other design goodies packed in and around the vehicle, including an airbag system for bidirectional vehicles and carriage seating that envelops passengers. Zoox said this is equal to five-star crash safety protections for all four seats. According to the website, the vehicle will also come with useful features such as wireless chargers for smartphones and other compatible devices.
It will also feature a personal control panel to set the music and in-car air conditions as well as check on arrival time, location, and route. Since there’s no driver’s seat, the company says that each passenger will have the same comfort, space, and access to technology. The vehicle has cameras, radar, and lidar that give it a 270-degree field of view on all four corners of the vehicle, which Zoox said lets it consistently track objects next to and behind it, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and other road users. That should be plenty of juice to help Zoox and Amazon start chipping away at their collective goal, which is creating an autonomous ride-hailing service. It’s a goal that Zoox has been pursuing since it was founded in 2014, and one it sought in almost theatrical secrecy before stumbling through a public spat with its co-founder and CEO in 2018, who was ultimately pushed out. The company has been testing prototypes of its self-driving vehicle in San Francisco and Foster City in California as well as in Las Vegas, Nevada. Of course, Zoox is just part of Amazon’s increasingly massive push into the transportation sector. Not only has the e-commerce giant essentially built out its shipping infrastructure, but it has poured a ton of money into buzzy EV startup Rivian. It also has a stake in Aurora, the autonomous vehicle outfit that just acquired Uber’s self-driving division.
Zoox is not only part of Amazon’s increasingly massive push into the transportation sector, but it is also a completely new technology in the form of autonomous vehicles. ZOOX Company has applied the latest techniques in automotive, robotics, and renewable energy to build a symmetrical, bi-directional battery-electric. Zoox is positioning its robotaxi as the vehicle that is designed for riders with resulting advantages for all passengers. It is not for drivers because it has no steering wheel and human-operated driving controls. It will only be used in ride-hailing fleet operations and will not be sold for personal use. So, what do you think? Isn’t it a great technological upgrade? Are you in support of driverless autonomous cars or not? Write down your opinion in the comments.