Zoox, the autonomous e-shuttle developed by Amazon-owned robotaxi company, has finally started operating on public roads in California. After almost a decade in development, the fully self-driving vehicle is being deployed to shuttle Zoox employees around Foster City, California. This announcement marks a significant milestone in the world of autonomous transportation, as the Zoox e-shuttle has been designed from scratch to be an autonomous vehicle, unlike other converted cars used by companies such as AutoX and Waymo.
The Zoox vehicle has undergone rigorous testing and development since the first prototype was built in 2015. The team achieved bi-directional driving the following year, and in 2018, Zoox was granted approval to transport passengers with a safety driver in California. The company received a permit to shuttle people without a safety driver in 2020, and after extensive testing on private roads, the Zoox e-shuttle was granted permission to operate on public roads by the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
The Zoox e-shuttle is an electric vehicle that measures 143 inches (3,630 mm) from fender to fender and stands 76 inches (1,936 mm) tall. The vehicle can carry up to four passengers, who access the vehicle through sliding doors and sit on face-to-face bench seating with safety belts.
The e-shuttle is capable of speeds of up to 75 mph (120 km/h) and can run for up to 16 hours per charge. The vehicle is equipped with four-wheel steering, active suspension, and a combination of vision cameras, radars, and LiDAR to provide data on its surroundings to an onboard computer system for processing.
After completing its maiden run on public roads on February 11, the Zoox e-shuttle will now be used to ferry up to four Zoox employees at a time between two buildings a mile apart in Foster City. It will be limited to a top speed of 35 mph for this mile-long autonomous shuttle service. The vehicle can navigate left and right turns, bi-directional turns, and traffic lights while taking care to interact safely with cyclists, pedestrians, and other vehicles.
The launch of the Zoox e-shuttle on public roads is a significant development in the autonomous transportation industry. The founders of Zoox have always believed that the best way to advance transportation and increase safety on our roads is to reimagine the entire mobility experience, going beyond retrofitting existing passenger vehicles with autonomous technology. The Zoox e-shuttle is a feat of design and engineering, and its development has been a culmination of years of hard work.
The lessons learned from the operation of the Zoox e-shuttle will inform future improvements to the technology. The company will continue to refine and improve its technology and operations as it prepares for the launch of its commercial service.
The deployment of the Zoox e-shuttle on public roads is an exciting development, and it is just the beginning of what promises to be a revolution in the transportation industry. As the technology continues to evolve, we can expect to see more autonomous vehicles on our roads, improving safety and transforming the way we move around our cities.