Zoox CEO Overhauling Amazon’s Robotaxi Unit Ahead Of Las Vegas Commercial Launch

Zoox claims that it’s L5 automobile will mark the initial “ground up,” autonomous electric robotaxi used on public roads.

Zoox, an independent driving firm based in Silicon Valley, acquired by Amazon in the last year, is going through an overhaul and restructuring of the company’s practices, operations, and plans to eventually expand an automated taxi service commercially aimed to debut first within Las Vegas, according to Zoox’s CEO Aicha Evans.

Zoox, earlier this year, unveiled its in-house-designed electric L5 passenger-hauler. In October, it announced that it would be testing its robot system in Seattle along with San Francisco and Las Vegas but isn’t reducing headcounts in the business review. However, certain early Zoox employees have left, Evans tells Forbes. Evans didn’t provide specific details about the new organization or the date set for the beginning of commercial rides within Las Vegas. However, co-founder and chief technology officer Jesse Levinson said the company believes it’s the first to test the “ground up, fully autonomous vehicle” on the streets of public areas.

“The latest phase we’re entering in is, instead of a lot of splash around demo programs and things like that, we’re hunkered down to mature the company, to match the business and commercial ambitions we have,” Evans stated. This is “doing the work of getting ready for scale regardless of procedures, or methodologies and even the way we manage our organization and those we hire as well as the ones who stay. That’s what we’re doing at the moment.”

Zoox is competing against highly funded competitors like Alphabet’s Waymo and General Motors’ Cruise and Argo AI, supported by Ford and Volkswagen, and is among the first technology companies to demonstrate that robotic vehicles on demand are on-demand viable and can become an extremely profitable business. The company currently Waymo offers a modest professional autonomous vehicle service within suburban Phoenix with an array comprised of modified Chrysler minivans. It is also expanding the service to San Francisco Bay Area, though it is offered only within tiny operational zones extensively mapped. Apart from Tesla’s Elon Musk, who set and failed to meet a goal for his electric car business to have robot-driven rides at the end of 2020 However, neither Zoox nor its competitors will reveal when their robotaxis will become widely accessible. It is a Foster City, California-based company with a tiny vehicle manufacturing operation located in Fremont, California, to create innovative L5 vehicles. The facility has also increased its capacity to supply its test fleet with modifiable Toyota Highlander SUVs continuously operating across San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Seattle.

Zoox currently has approximately 1500 employees. It isn’t planning to cut that number. Even however, certain “early, prominent Zoox people” have left Zoox, Evans said, without naming individual employees.

“We’re celebrating them. We’re thanking them for that first phase,” she added. Some people feel that the company’s first phase was more enjoyable than the place where the company is at today. “This stage, it’s slightly less sexually attractive; it’s grittier. This is what can help you create a business which sells its products and improves the way we live our lives.”

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Adam Collins
Adam writes about technology, business and economics. With master's degree in Economics, he's presented six papers in international conferences. As a solivagant in the constant state of fernweh, curiosity is the main weapon in his arsenal.

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