Amazon in talks to purchase self-driving Start-up Zoox
If the agreement between Amazon and Zoox is positive, then the deal will be the first in the autonomous vehicle industry from an e-commerce firm.
Amazon.com Inc. is in negotiations to acquire driverless car company Zoox Inc., a move that will extend the scope of the e-commerce giant of autonomous-vehicle technology, according to people familiar with the matter. As per a report, the deal will value Zoox at less than the $3.2 billion that it achieved in a funding round in 2018. An agreement is set to take place in the coming weeks, but at the moment nothing seems concrete.
Established in 2014, Zoox is unique in the self-driving industry with its search to conquer the triple task of developing a driverless infrastructure, constructing a ride-hailing network, and delivering a custom-made autonomous vehicle on a scale. Pulling this off would require huge capital, and unlike Cruise, the General Motors-backed self-driving company, or Argo AI, which is supported by Volkswagen and Ford, Zoox has no major automotive partner.
Amazon is ready to invest heavily in automating its e-commerce sector. The internet commerce company acquired $775 million in 2012 from factory robot maker Kiva Systems Inc. and now has hundreds of thousands of robots in warehouses around the world. Amazon was also the lead partner in a $530-million investment round for Aurora, a competing automation start-up headed by Waymo ‘s ex-head engineer Chris Urmson. As per now Amazon in Talks to purchase self-driving Start-up Zoox.
Zoox ‘s test fleet of modified Toyota Highlander sports utility vehicles was a common sight in San Francisco and Las Vegas before the coronavirus outbreak. But the firm has also produced a fully autonomous vehicle with no steering wheel or pedals and carriage-style seating features. That vehicle wasn’t shown to the public but it was scheduled to launch a service using it in trial format this year before being more widely implemented in 2021.
Paying drivers to transport deliveries is also one of the company’s main operating costs, however. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos announced plans for drone shipping in 2013, although they have yet to materialize at scale. Last year, Amazon found out an experimental shipping robot known as Scout in the Seattle region that rolls on sidewalks like a shopping cart. When this agreement materializes it would bring a revolution in the field of autonomous vehicles and considering Amazon’s scope across the globe would significantly boost its accessibility in the future.