Amazon-owned Zoox has deployed what it claims is the first purpose-built robotaxi on open public roads with passengers in California.
The autonomous mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) vendor conducted the first run of its employee shuttle service on Feb. 11, 2023. It is the first time an autonomous robotaxi without traditional driving controls has carried passengers on open public roads, Zoox said.
Previously, Zoox tested its robotaxi on private roads and received permits from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to operate its robotaxis on the state’s public roads.
The robotaxi was built from the ground up with passenger travel as the target. So, the robotaxi was created without any traditional vehicle controls such as a steering wheel, pedals or cockpit, allowing it to have greater room for passengers.
“The founding premise of Zoox was that the best way to advance transportation and increase safety on our roadways was to reimagine the full mobility experience,” said Jesse Levinson, co-founder and CTO at Zoox. “That means going beyond retrofitting today’s passenger vehicles with autonomous technology. It is a feat of design and engineering — and the culmination of years of hard work — to drive a purpose-built vehicle, fully autonomously and without safety drivers.”
Zoox will use the robotaxis as an employee shuttle service at its headquarters in Foster City, California. The service will be offered to Zoox employees only and can transport up to four people at a time on a public route between Zoox’s main office buildings.
The robotaxis travel at about 35 mph and can handle left- and right-hand turns, bi-directional turns, traffic lights, cyclists, pedestrians, vehicles and more along the route.
After establishing the shuttle service for its employees as part of the California DMV permit, Zoox plans to expand its service to the general public.