Aicha Evans, CEO of American autonomous vehicle company Zoox, said in an interview with Bloomberg that commercial launch of its autonomous urban transport vehicle won’t happen next year, but it will happen “a lot sooner than people imagine.”
Founded in 2014 by Jesse Levinson and Australian entrepreneur Tim Kentley-Klay, and backed in its early stages by Australian software billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes, Zoox was then bought out by online retail giant Amazon last year in a deal worth a reported $US1.2 billion ($AU1.45 billion).
Zoox followed through on its ambitions not long after, unveiling its autonomous urban transport vehicle in December, a “robotaxi” designed to navigate tight urban spaces without the need for a driver, but still able to reach seeds of up to 120km/h.
A purpose-built bi-directional vehicle, the Zoox vehicle can seat up to four thanks to getting rid of the driver’s seat altogether, and boasts an industry-leading 133kWh battery that allows it to stay on the road for up to 16 hours a day.
In an interview on Tuesday with Bloomberg Technology, Evans confirmed the company is already testing in San Francisco and Las Vegas – as suggested by photos taken in December days before the official launch – which the company expects will lead to these two cities serving as launching pads for a commercial start to operations.
“We don’t have any … specific announcements at this point in time,” Evans explained. “It’s not next year, for sure, but it’s also a lot sooner than people imagine.”
“This is really an inflection point in transportation. It’s the beginning of the wave, and it’s something that’s really going to change how cities develop how we move around, and it’s gonna unlock a lot of opportunities.”
Interestingly, when quizzed on whether Zoox’s relationship with Amazon will lead to their robotaxi’s delivering Amazon packages, Evans explained that “moving people is the foundation” of the company’s plans, but “once we’re good and safe in terms of moving people and … we actually scale that, I think it’s fair to assume that we can move packages.
“First we’ll move you, and then we’ll move your packages a bit later.”