Zoox Is the Twelfth Company Allowed to Test Self-Driving Cars in California

We still can't fully comprehend how the advent of autonomous cars is going to change the things around us. And it's not just how we drive, but how we live.
San Francisco street 1 photo
Photo: David Yu on Flickr
Earlier this week, we told you about an MIT research project that looked into the possibility of traffic-lights-free intersections, since self-driving interconnected cars would not need it. That's just one example. The daily commute is another. As is the fact that we won't probably need to own a car anymore, because ride hailing services will inevitably boom.

Uber is well aware of that, which is why the recent report suggesting the company ordered 100,000 Mercedes-Benz S-Class autonomous limousines starting 2020 doesn't appear that far-fetched. Other companies, however, are going for a more hands-on approach, in that they're doing the testing themselves.

Take Zoox, for example, a relatively small startup nobody outside the business has ever heard about that is now proclaiming its intention to build fully autonomous vehicles by 2020. And it's not just your ordinary people having a dream: the Zoox team has been recruiting experienced specialists who have worked on similar projects before for other companies. They even hired Joseph Wu this January, the man who built the Tesla Autopilot team, so they're still scouting for talent. In fact, the company has listed several openings on LinkedIn.

Yesterday, Zoox was given the permit to test autonomous cars on public roads by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. It's restricted to one car and seven drivers, but it's probably all that Zoox needs at the moment. It is thus joining a select group of eleven other companies that are currently carrying out tests in California, including big names such as Google, Tesla, Volkswagen, Bosch or Mercedes-Benz.

Zoox's declared ultimate purpose is to create driverless cars that will be used for a ride-hailing service to rival Uber or Lyft: “Zoox is developing fully autonomous vehicles and the supporting ecosystem required to bring the technology to market at scale. Sitting at the intersection of robotics, machine learning, and design, Zoox aims to provide the next generation of mobility-as-a-service in urban environments." We'll probably see a lot more companies such as these in future years.
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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