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Amazon Now Has A Driverless Car

December 14, 2020, 12:00 am

Amazon is looking ahead to the future of delivery, but also how people move. Meet Zoox’s driverless car and you might see it on the road sooner than you think. 

In a surprise announcement in December, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ latest project released more details on a driverless car. In the summer of 2020, Amazon purchased a small autonomous vehicle start-up called Zoox. The six-year-old company has been working to design and engineer a vehicle suited to urban driving. Their first prototype for Amazon looks promising. 

The car is described as ‘carriage-style’, which means all four passengers face each other. That means there are no internal controls; no steering wheel, no gas or brake, and in effect, no front of the vehicle. Rotating wheels allow the vehicle to travel both forward and backward and to either side, making it easy to parallel park in tight spaces. It’s a design that seems perfectly suited as a people-mover, a smart shuttle that could ultimately replace not only taxis but ride shares currently driven by companies like Uber and Lyft. 

For Amazon, there is an additional upside. While they certainly have the bandwidth and capital to use this technology as a rideshare company, or to license it to companies already in that market, it has a huge upside for their delivery service, too. These types of autonomous vehicles also could serve as last-mile delivery cars, taking products from warehouses to their final destinations. Amazon is already incorporating driverless vehicles as long-haul and bulk distribution, but those trucks are far too large to serve as effective delivery vehicles in most commercial or residential applications. 

The Zoox prototype is 100% electric as well, with a top speed of 75 miles per hour and an estimated range of approximately 16 hours on a full charge. Like most autonomous vehicles, it relies on sensitive lidar to detect road obstacles and hazards. 

Already in testing in San Francisco, Forester City, California, and Las Vegas, Amazon looks to be leading a slew of tech companies and traditional automotive giants like Alphabet’s Waymo, General Motors’ Cruise, and efforts from Tesla as well.

Posted by up.bike at 12:00 am
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