A few days ago, the first photos of Zoox’s long-awaited autonomous electric vehicle design were already circulating, and today was the official unveiling. The San Francisco-based startup had been acquired by Amazon a few months ago and had focused on developing a new vehicle concept for an autonomous and electric world on its own from the beginning.
The vehicle itself is more compact than a regular sedan, is designed to carry four passengers, and is about the height of an SUV. What’s new about the vehicle is that it can drive bidirectionally, allowing all wheels to turn in, making the vehicle very maneuverable. Two battery packs under the seat benches provide 16 hours of operation in urban use, powering two electric motors. The vehicle can reach a top speed of 75 miles per hour (120 km/h). Zoox didn’t reveal details about the battery supplier.
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Level 5 autonomous driving is provided by sensor combinations of LiDARs, radar and cameras mounted at the four corners. Each ‘sensor pod’ has a 270-degree viewing angle, all combined to give the vehicle a 360-degree all-round view. Additionally, there are front and rear facing cameras on the roof of the vehicle. The vehicle communicates with its environment by means of light signals and sounds, as we have already seen in this video. The robotaxi is ordered using an app, and passengers sit opposite each other on two benches with two seats each.
The factory where Zoox is located is in Fremont and has a capacity of 10,000 to 15,000 vehicles per year. Several of the mint-green vehicles have already been produced and are now to be put into test use. Zoox has also passed official crash tests with its vehicle. Inside the vehicle, airbags are deployed to surround each passenger in the event of an accident.
The company plans to launch its robotaxi service first in a major U.S. metropolis (presumably San Francisco) and also operate it internationally. The company has not yet given an exact date for the start of the operation, but it won’t start in 2021. The Zoox website has more information and pictures.
Here is the video:
This article has also been published in German.