Amazon’s autonomous vehicle unit Zoox said on Monday it had successfully tested a robot taxi with employees as passengers on a public road in a move to bring it closer to commercial service for the general public.
The Feb. 11 test, conducted between two Zoox buildings a mile apart at its Foster City, Calif., headquarters, was part of the launch of a free shuttle service for employees that will also help the company refine its technology. .
“Putting the vehicle on an open public road and validating our approach to all the different requirements, including regulatory, is a big step and we wouldn’t have done it unless internally we were already looking at starting the business operation,” said President- executive, Aicha Evans, to reporters on a conference call.
Evans declined to provide a timeline for a commercial release, which will need additional government approvals.
Zoox’s robot taxi — built as a fully autonomous vehicle from the ground up, rather than adapting existing cars for autonomous driving — comes without a steering wheel or pedals and has room for four passengers, with two facing each other.
Amazon, which has been aggressively expanding into self-driving technology, bought Zoox for $1.3 billion in 2020.
Zoox chief technology officer Jesse Levinson said the company has been cautious about its growth but is still on track to reach 2,500 employees in 2023, up from just under 2,000 earlier this year.
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