Amazon’s self-driving company Zoox unveiled its autonomous robot taxi on Monday.


AmazonSelf-driving car company Zoox said Monday it is now testing its driverless robot taxi on public roads in California with passengers on board.

The vehicles have no steering wheel or pedals, and have two-way steering and four-wheel steering capabilities, allowing them to change direction without the need to reverse.

Zoox executives said the company began testing after receiving approval from the California Department of Motor Vehicles last week.

Permit not for all public roads in the state. Currently, testing is limited to running Zoox employees along a one-mile public route between two office buildings at the company’s headquarters in Foster City, Calif., at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour. The company did not say how large its test fleet is, but executives said they have built “dozens” of cars, though fewer than 100.

Zoox said one of its vehicles completed a test run with employees on board last weekend.

Amazon acquired the 9-year-old startup in 2020, and at the time shared some details about how it plans to use the company’s technology. In 2020, Zoox introduced its custom-built electric robotaxi with an eye toward offering on-demand, autonomous transportation in urban environments.

When speaking to reporters, Zoox executives declined to say when the company would launch a commercial robotaxi service or open testing beyond a limited route and number of employees. It will continue to test the vehicle with employees and plans to launch an employee shuttle this spring.

GMCruise’s driverless division has also developed an autonomous shuttle called Origin that has no manual controls. Cruise and AlphabetWaymo and Cruise were last year allowed to roll out self-driving taxi services in California and charge passengers for rides.

Unlike Cruise, Zoox says its driverless vehicles, which have no steering wheel or other manual controls, meet federal motor vehicle safety standards, so the company doesn’t require a waiver from using them on public roads.

All companies that test their vehicles on public roads in the state of California are required to report any time their system shuts down or any time a driver must take control of an autonomous system while driving, usually due to safety or safety concerns. software.

Zoox doesn’t call these incidents outages, but rather cases where the vehicle needs support or guidance, so it doesn’t report them to the state.

“When a vehicle is in a situation where it needs help because it needs to do something it normally can’t do, or because it doesn’t know how to handle the situation, we have a so-called ‘fusion center’ with prepared operators who control the outcome of the scene and then will give instructions to the vehicle and either give it permission to do something – but the vehicle still drives and does all the driving – or throw breadcrumbs on an alternative trajectory, or in the worst case scenario -Scenario case is stopped,” Zoox CEO Aicha Evans told reporters.

— CNBC Laura Kolodny contributed to this article.

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