Amazon’s latest push into self-driving car technologies involves buying up Zoox, a startup that’s developing robot taxis that can be hailed over a smartphone.
“We’re acquiring Zoox to help bring their vision of autonomous ride-hailing to reality,” the e-commerce giant said in today’s announcement.
Amazon is remaining mum on how it’ll exactly use the acquisition. But for years now, the company has also been exploring self-driving car technologies. In 2019, the e-commerce giant was among the backers to a $530 million funding round for Aurora, a software developer of autonomous driving.
Whether Amazon plans to one day offer a robot taxi service was left unsaid in today’s announcement. But the same technologies could also power a fleet of self-driving delivery vehicles.
On Zoox, Amazon noted the startup’s commitment to developing self-driving vehicles that generate zero carbon emissions. Last year, Amazon made a pledge to become a net zero carbon emissions company by 2040. To achieve this, the e-commerce giant plans on deploying 100,000 fully electric delivery vehicles on the road by 2030.
Amazon didn’t disclose the acquisition cost, but according to The Financial Times, it’s paying $1.2 billion to purchase Zoox. The 900-person startup was founded in 2014 and is based in Foster City, California. However, the company recently laid off about 100 staffers, citing the economic impact from COVID-19.
Zoox’s CEO Aicha Evans and the company’s chief technology officer, Jesse Levinson, will continue to lead the company following the acquisition. “We have made great strides in creating autonomous mobility from the ground up, and are excited to continue working with our exceptionally talented team to realize that vision,” the startup said in a statement.