Six years ago, Zoox launched quietly with a mighty mission: build and commercialize just about every aspect of a robotaxi service from the self-driving software stack and on-demand ridesharing app to the management of the fleet and an unconventional vehicle that would transport passengers.
The vehicle has no driver’s seat, steering wheel, or pedals — just four inward-facing passenger seats. It’s capable of driving in either direction and uses lidar, radar, and cameras to guide its navigation and collision avoidance systems. It can go for 16 hours on single charge.
The interior of Zoox’s vehicle is less coldly technological. The cozy bench seats, which face inward (hence the term “carriage-style”) are surrounded by what looks like textured fabric. The seats also conceal what Zoox says is a radical rethink of how airbags work. There are cupholders and wireless charging mats between seats.
Acquired by Amazon 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 commercially deployed.