Could a self-driving delivery vehicle be showing up at your door soon?
E-commerce giant Amazon has taken a big step towards the safe development of self-driving cars. The company has acquired Zoox, a self-driving technology startup. Allegedly, the deal is worth a massive $1.2 billion. In a blog on About Amazon, the company describes Zoox as a "forward-thinking team that is pioneering the future of ride-hailing."
Self-driving vehicles are the talk of the town right now, so much so that even BMW and Mercedes-Benz partnered up to co-develop self-driving technologies, although that agreement has since been put on pause. Although Tesla offers its so-called Full Self Driving Capability on vehicles like the Model S, we're still some way off from Level 5 autonomy.
When Zoox started back in 2014, it had a vision for zero-emissions vehicles that were specifically developed for an autonomous ride-hailing service. Considering Amazon's vast logistical network and the exciting realities of self-driving delivery vehicles, it makes sense for the business to invest in the expertise of Zoox.
"Zoox is working to imagine, invent, and design a world-class autonomous ride-hailing experience," enthused Jeff Wikle, Amazon's CEO, Worldwide Consumer. "Like Amazon, Zoox is passionate about innovation and about its customers."
Zoox CEO Aicha Evans was understandably upbeat about the new deal. "This acquisition solidifies Zoox's impact on the autonomous driving industry," she said. With Amazon's support, Zoox can now accelerate its plans.
Of course, Amazon is not alone in its autonomous drive. Ford had intended to introduce self-driving taxis imminently, but had to push back these plans to 2022 due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus. Mercedes-Benz has also tested robotaxis on the streets of California, and even Tesla boss Elon Musk was bullish about Tesla robotaxis hitting the roads this year.
Honestly, it's been a lot of fanfare and not much else as we have yet to take a drive to the office in a car that drives itself. But with Amazon's latest move, could it get the jump on the automotive giants we expected to see utilizing the technology in the first place? We'll have to wait and see.