Zoox, an Amazon.com Inc. self-driving technology company, said on Tuesday that it is gearing up to launch its robotaxi business, self-certifying that its vehicle with no pedals or steering wheel meets US federal regulations, and applying for a permit to test-drive it in California, according to Jesse Levison, Zoox's co-founder and chief technology officer.
The Zooxs vehicle, VH6, has space for four people, with two facing each other, in a layout that looks like the startup Cruises Origin vehicle that was unveiled in January, 2020.
The VH6 is manufactured at Zoox's Kato factory in Fremont, California, a city where Tesla manufactures its automobiles.
According to Levinson, the factory has produced dozens of VH6s, and the present location can produce tens of thousands of automobiles.
The current economic downturn hasn't weighed on the company, and Zoox will increase its employee count to 2,000 this year, compared to 1,400 at the start of the year. For the time being, the business is focused on moving people rather than packages, which is much more lucrative.
Even in the early days of this technology, we can compete with, for example, Uber and Lyft and make money and be very cost-effective.
Zoox, a group of mostly self-driving tech businesses that operate vehicles without a steering wheel or pedals, has applied to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for an exemption. This was a higher standard that makes Zoox liable for the safety of the vehicle.
The NHTSA exemption limits the number of automobiles that may be manufactured as well as the length of time that the vehicle must be manufactured.
Cruise applied for a NHTSA exemption this year. According to a source close to the company, Cruise believes that this approach is more accountable and gives regulators a clearer view of the technology.
Nuro, a self-driving business backed by SoftBank, has stated that it expects its next generation automobile to meet all applicable federal regulations at the time it is deployed. Its current R2 car, with no pedals, steering wheel, and space inside only for packages, was manufactured with an exemption from NHTSA.
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