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Amazon-Owned Zoox Wants to Test Its Robotaxis in California

Zoox, the self-driving technology company owned by Amazon, announced on Tuesday that it is gearing up to introduce its robotaxi business in California. The firm has plans to request a permit to test-drive its vehicle, which has no pedals or steering wheel, in the country.
Zoox VH6 autonomous vehicle 6 photos
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Zoox claims its robotaxi business is self-certifying and that its vehicle, called VH6, meets all US federal rules and regulations to operate on public roads.

“We really invested the extra time and resources to build a vehicle that doesn’t require exemptions and then that basically lets us control our own destiny and also deploy our vehicles at scale,” said Jesse Levison, Zoox’s co-founder and chief technology officer, according to a report by Reuters.

The VH6 can move four passengers at the same time, thanks to its face-to-face seating, making it ideal for families or larger groups. It also seems fitting for ride sharing with strangers, with the face-to-face layout designed to allow social interaction.

With the declared aim to reinvent personal transportation with its on-demand autonomous ride-hailing service, Zoox believes robotaxis for moving people are a more lucrative solution, compared to autonomous vehicles to deliver packages. It also says it is ready to face competitors like Cruise, Lyft, or Uber operating in the “moving people around” department.

Zoox announced earlier this month that it had become the first self-driving company to self-certify a purpose-built, all-electric, fully autonomous passenger vehicle.

The VH6, which is manufactured in Zoox’s Kato facility in Fremont, California, is similar in appearance to the concepts shown by other autonomous firms, with a capsule-like body shape and four seats facing each other on the inside, and does not make use of traditional human driver controls.

According to the company, the vehicle underwent a series of physical tests, computer simulations, and engineering analyses to ensure safety and compliance with FMVSS requirements.

The Kato factory has produced dozens of VH6s already, says Levison, and it can produce tens of thousands of vehicles. “The current economic slowdown has not affected the company and Zoox will increase its employee number to 2,000 this year from 1,400 at the start of the year,” he stated.

 
 
 
 
 

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