The Wall Street Journal reports on advanced sales negotiations between Amazon and the developer of autonomous cars, Zoox. The sale price is expected to be below the last valuation of $3.2 billion.
For several weeks now, rumors have been buzzing around the Zoox, which was founded in 2014 and had aggressively put itself up for sale. Based in Foster City and San Francisco, the company – about which we have reported here regularly – is one of the most advanced and ambitious companies in the development of robotic electric taxis. Thus, the 2018 and 2019 Disengagement Reports put it in the top 10 and 2018 even in the top 3. The Zoox test vehicles stand out for their LiDARs and sensors mounted on exoskeletons, which can be seen in San Francisco and other parts of the Bay Area.
The biggest ambition, however, comes from the fact that Zoox wants to develop a completely new vehicle in addition to the self-propelled technology that it has been teasing in recent weeks, but has not yet revealed. This seemed to have become a bit too expensive for the start-up to make it on its own during the COVID 19 crisis, when Zoox had to part with 10 percent of its staff.
Amazon, which in turn benefited greatly from the COVID 19 crisis, may have other ideas than to develop autonomous cars for transporting people. It could strategically change technology and vehicle development to autonomous delivery vehicles and delivery robots. During the ongoing crisis, this technological discipline has proven to be a much needed technology. Amazon itself is already heavily invested in autonomous technologies. In 2019, the company has invested 530 million dollars in the start-up Aurora, and has its own department that develops such technology.
Possible effects of such an acquisition could be that the omni-directional vehicle planned and under development by Zoox would first be discontinued, and instead a new competitor to the Post Office, UPS and FedEx could be planned on autonomous delivery vehicles and delivery robots. Autonomous vehicles such as these could bring an unbeatable price advantage in delivery and a drastic reduction in delivery times. Amazon has already shown interest in these technologies with its own department for the development of autonomous vehicles, drones and its investments.
Here is a gallery of Zoox test vehicles over the last years:
This article was also published in German.