Amazon’s first robotaxi takes employees for a spin on public roadways

Amazon’s new self-driving taxi, Zoox, passed its first driving test with passengers on public roadways.

Zoox has passed its first public test run.

The self-driving taxi successfully and safety shuttled four Amazon employees from one company location to another using the suburban streets of Silicon Valley, California.

The Zoox unit, who were just granted a testing permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) last week, said the test will bring it closer to commercial service for the general public.

"Putting the vehicle on (an) open public road and validating our approach to all of the different requirements, including regulatory, is a big step and we would not have done it unless internally we were already looking at the line of sight for going commercial," Chief Executive Aicha Evans told Reuters.

The rectangular shaped Zoox can carry up to four passengers, with two facing one other.

Once inside, passengers will notice Zoox does not come equipped with either a steering wheel or driver pedals.

The February 11 test was part of the launch of a new employee shuttle service between Zoox offices located about a mile apart in the San Francisco bay area suburb of Forest City.

The Zoox team said the service will also help to refine the robotaxi’s technology.

Of course, Zoox is not the first self driving vehicle to hold a driverless robotaxi permit from the California DMV.

In 2018, China’s AutoX obtained a driverless permit to launch a robotaxi grocery delivery pilot program in San Jose, California.

AutoX already operates a fully functional fleet of driverless taxis in Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Beijing.

In summer 2022, the self-driving Cruise was granted the right to start charging passengers for paid robotaxi rides in the city of San Francisco.

This came after Cruise ran a six month pilot program in the city offering free rides to any public passenger.

The biggest difference between Amazon and its competitors, is that Zoox has been built completely from scratch.

All the others, including Google's self-driving car Waymo, were adapted from existing conventional vehicles.