It’s no secret that Amazon is at the forefront of just about everything when it comes to consumerism and now it will be headed into a new space when it completes the acquisition of Zoox, a self-driving car startup company. And while Amazon has had its hand in other autonomous acquisitions and undertaking as of late, it’s specifically aimed at helping Zoox “bring their vision of autonomous ride-hailing to reality,” according to Amazon.
Amazon could make the future a reality for Zoox
While there are many different autonomous startup companies peppering the Bay Area in Northern California, Zoox has been making strides in the past few years when it comes to creating its own actual self-driving vehicle. Its original long-term goal was to create a fully autonomous vehicle with no steering wheel that can travel either backward or forward, kind of like a tram on rails. However, with the new planned acquisition from Amazon, that long-term goal could move closer to the short term.
We can see why Zoox would jump at the chance to work with the corporate giant, as it underwent some drawbacks in April due to COVID-19, forcing the company to lay off about 120 contract workers. On top of that, Zoox had to cut about 100 jobs revolving around settling a dispute with Tesla over claims of theft of confidential information. Needless to say, Zoox has had its fair share of obstacles in 2020, as we all have, however, this new merger with Amazon could prove to be a much-needed lifeline.
There are no concrete plans yet, but the future looks bright
This isn’t Amazon’s first foray into the autonomous sector, in fact, it has also made investments in Aurora, but the acquisition of Zoox is much bigger. While there aren’t currently any concrete plans as to what Amazon will be doing with Zoox, the self-driving startup will continue to operate separately and continue to be led by its CEO Aicha Evans and CTO Jesse Levinson. Zoox has been testing its technology using a fleet of Toyota Highlanders equipped with the company’s self-driving hardware and software in parts of the San Francisco and Las Vegas areas and will likely continue to do so.
However, if Zoox does plan to continue creating an autonomous ride-hailing service, it’s possible that Amazon could benefit greatly from it. Maybe not so much with the delivery of passengers, but more likely for packages and such. There is some speculation that Amazon could use Zoox’s services and technology for its planned “last mile” automated sidewalk delivery service, but that remains to be seen.
“This acquisition solidifies Zoox’s impact on the autonomous driving industry,” said Aicha Evans, CEO of Zoox. “We have made great strides with our purpose-built approach to safe, autonomous mobility, and our exceptionally talented team working every day to realize that vision. We now have an even greater opportunity to realize a fully autonomous future.”
This merger could mean big strides toward an autonomous future
While it’s still tough to imagine a fully autonomous ride share program or maybe even fully autonomous product delivery, this merger could bring that dream much closer to reality. As we know, the right amount of money and effort could make just about anything happen and Amazon definitely has the money, it just needed a well-equipped and staffed start-up company like Zoox, to make it a full-fledged reality.