Zoox, a self-driving technology firm owned by Amazon.com Inc, said on Tuesday it was gearing up to launch its robotaxi business, self-certifying that its vehicle with no pedals or steering wheel meets US federal regulations and applying for a permit in California to test-drive it.
“We really invested the extra time and resources to build a vehicle that doesn't require exemptions and then that basically lets us control our own destiny and also deploy our vehicles at scale,” Jesse Levison, Zoox’s co-founder and chief technology officer told Reuters.
Zoox’s vehicle, called VH6, has room for four passengers, with two facing each other - a layout that looks like startup Cruise’s Origin vehicle unveiled in January, 2020. Cruise is controlled by General Motors Co.
The VH6 is produced in Zoox’s "Kato" factory in Fremont, California, a city where Tesla also builds its cars.
Levinson said the factory has produced dozens of VH6s and the current location can produce tens of thousands of vehicles.
He said that the current economic slowdown has not affected the company and Zoox will increase its employee number to 2,000 this year from 1,400 at the start of the year. Levison also said for now the company is focused on moving people, rather than packages, which is much more lucrative.
“We can compete with, for example, Uber and Lyft and make money and be very cost competitive even in the early days of this technology,” he said.
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