You enter the vehicle’s side doors, which open like subway doors and sit down across from another person. The vehicle moves forward at up to 75 mph and changes direction without reversing.
Then you notice that there is no steering wheel or driver in the car. This is the ride of the future with Amazon’s self-driving robotaxi, Zoox.
The electric, carriage-style vehicle debuted Monday and can carry up to four passengers on two benches and operate on a battery for 16 hours without a charge.
Zoox, just purchased in June by Amazon for $1.3 billion, is taking on Waymo, Cruise, Uber, and Tesla in this area by featuring motors at each end, bidirectional driving capability and four-wheel steering, allowing the 12-foot car to navigate compact spaces without needing to reverse.
Cameras, radar and lidar sensors offer a 270-degree view of the road. It’s just not for a driver. With airbags that separate each passenger, the vehicle will be tested in Las Vegas, San Francisco and Foster City, Calif., before an app-based ride-sharing service goes into use in Las Vegas and San Francisco.
“As we see the alarming statistics around carbon emissions and traffic accidents, it’s more important than ever that we build a sustainable, safe solution that allows riders to get from point A to point B,” Zoox CEO Aicha Evans told Axios.
The Las Vegas Strip might be a good place to start for revelers bouncing from casino to casino on crowded streets. It might be more calming to see nobody at the wheel than a partier or a hurried taxi driver.