But Zoo ’s ground-up technology, which includes developing zero-emission vehicles built specifically for autonomous use, could easily translate to that side of Amazon ’s operations. Neither Amazon nor Zoo would give us more details on the deal, but it's worth a reported $1.2 billion and is focused on realizing fully autonomous, zero-emission ride-hailing vehicles.
Zoo is not the best-known name in autonomous driving technology, but that hasn't stopped the company from making bold promises. The Zoo website says the company is working on fully autonomous driving with a purpose-built “symmetrical, bidirectional, zero-emissions vehicles” that will (or could, at least) be used for on-demand mobility in complex environments.
There must be something to all this bluster, though, since Amazon followed through on rumors that were bubbling around earlier this month and has now acquired the startup for a reported $1.2 billion. Amazon said in a statement Friday that the two companies will work together to design the autonomous ride-hailing vehicles from the ground up and putting passengers' needs first.
“ Zoo is working to imagine, invent, and design a world-class autonomous ride-hailing experience,” Jeff Wilde, Amazon Worldwide Consumer CEO, said in a statement. “Even though the exact details of the acquisition and future plans are vague and neither Amazon nor Zoo responded to Car and Driver's request for more information, that didn't stop Tesla CEO Elon Musk from chiming in on the deal on Twitter, calling Amazon CEO Bezos a copycat (using that traditional billionaire-speak, the feline emoji) for getting into the AV game.
Zoo has been around since 2014 and despite missing some publicly announced targets (like starting a robot service in San Francisco this year), has been singularly focused on creating zero-emissions vehicles that are purpose-built for autonomous ride-hailing. That means not only building a new vehicle, but also an end-to-end autonomy software stack. In early 2019, the online behemoth invested in Aurora, a Silicon Valley startup.
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. Zoo on Monday debuted an electric, fully driverless vehicle that's built for ride hailing.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has previously expressed enthusiasm around the auto industry and the company has been using self-driving trucks to haul some cargo. Over time, self-driving vehicles like those envisioned by Zoo could fit into Amazon's sprawling logistics network, by making last-mile delivery cheaper and faster than before.
The robot has a few features that set it apart from rivals like Alphabet's Waymo, GM's Cruise, Uber and Tesla. It has bidirectional driving capabilities and four-wheel steering, which allows it to change directions without the need to reverse and navigate in compact spaces.
An array of cameras, radar and LIDAR sensors are mounted on all four corners of the car, eliminating “typical blind spots” and giving it a 270-degree field of view on the road. “ Zoo is the first in the industry to showcase a driving, purpose-built robot capable of operating up to 75 miles per hour,” the company told CNBC in a statement.
“While our vehicle is not ready for commercial use yet, this marks a key milestone towards our vision of building an autonomous robot fleet and ride-hailing service.” And importantly for investors, this means that the first robot for Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) could be just around the corner.
Zoo has been around since 2014, and has primarily operated in the San Francisco Bay Area. While it has been testing its tech, the company has used retrofitted Toyota (NYSE: TM) Highlanders.
However, on Monday, the company unveiled its first Zoo autonomous EV for the robot market. Zoo intends the robot to be fully self-driving, and the vehicle does not have a steering wheel.
Additionally, the Zoo autonomous EV consists of a carriage-style vehicle with two benches that face each other. The Zoo autonomous EV also has a 270-degree view at each corner thanks to a system of LiDAR sensors, radars and cameras.
Through its many arms, Amazon touches e-commerce, cloud computing, grocery stores, pharmacy services and so much more. It also has a stake in electric vehicle startup Rivian, which is planning to electrify trucks and SUVs.
Importantly, this summer has brought about renewed interest in self-driving vehicles, especially for their potential to enable contactless taxi rides and order deliveries. Additionally, robot fleets are largely seen as the future of transportation in high-density urban areas.
This year has also brought updates on the startup Euro as it works to pilot deliveries, and on Cruise, an offshoot of General Motors (NYSE: GM) working to electrify city robot axis. Industry experts have already noted that the Zoo autonomous EV has successfully differentiated itself with a medium size, bi-directional driving capabilities and its sleek design.
On the date of publication, Sarah Smith did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. Zoo on Monday debuted an electric, fully driverless vehicle that’s built for ride hailing.
Amazon acquired the six-year-old start-up in June and, at the time, gave few details about how it planned to use Zoo ’s technology. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has previously expressed enthusiasm around the auto industry and the company has been using self-driving trucks to haul some cargo.
Over time, self-driving vehicles like those envisioned by Zoo could fit into Amazon ’s sprawling logistics network, by making last-mile delivery cheaper and faster than before. The robot has a few features that set it apart from rivals like Alphabets Waymo, GM’s Cruise, Uber and Tesla.
It has bidirectional driving capabilities and four-wheel steering, which allows it to change directions without the need to reverse and navigate in compact spaces. An array of cameras, radar and LIDAR sensors are mounted on all four corners of the car, eliminating “typical blind spots” and giving it a 270-degree field of view on the road.
At just 3.63 meters long, it falls somewhere in between the big, boxy Origin robot from Cruise (which is owned by General Motors) and the delivery-focused robot made by Euro. Like most early autonomous vehicles, Zoo ’s robot is decked out in safety technology.
And the ceiling has a starry sky pattern, the kind commonly seen in luxury vehicles like the Rolls-Royce Ghost. A small touchscreen at each seat is the most obvious tech found inside; Zoo says passengers will use these to control music, air conditioning, or see their route and ETA.
That should be plenty of juice to help Zoo and Amazon start chipping away at their collective goal, which is creating an autonomous ride-hailing service. It’s a goal that Zoo has been pursuing since it was founded in 2014, and one it sought in almost theatrical secrecy before stumbling through a public spat with its co-founder and CEO in 2018, who was ultimately pushed out.
The company has been testing prototypes of its self-driving vehicle in San Francisco and Foster City in California, as well as in Las Vegas, Nevada. And designed from the ground up for riders, not drivers.
Yesterday, Amazon -owned Zoo unveiled its first electric robot in its push to eliminate awkward small talk in Users forever. “In a nutshell, we want to eventually move people around a city,” CEO Aisha Evans told journalist Kara Swisher in an interview.
It’s also begun exploring new business opportunities in regard to food delivery and ride hailing, resulting in sizable investments into both sectors. Coming off a staffing reduction of about 10 percent to contend with the pandemic, the company is currently focused on delivering a symmetrical, self-driving, zero-emissions vehicle that can compete on the currently nonexistent robo-taxi market.
While the world’s 13th largest company (by revenue) seems like it would make good use of the property to advance its autonomous delivery program, corporate messaging seems to indicate Amazon is more interested in Zoo ’s expertise in people moving. “ Zoo is working to imagine, invent, and design a world-class autonomous ride-hailing experience,” said Jeff Wilde, Amazon ’s CEO, Worldwide Consumer.
Back in May, Morgan Stanley (via Bloomberg) suggested the e-commerce giant buying up Zoo could save it $20 billion in annual delivery costs. “Autonomous technology is a natural extension of Amazon ’s efforts to build its own third party logistics network,” Morgan Stanley’s analysts wrote, estimating that the firm’s yearly delivery expenses could soon exceed $90 billion.
The 900-person startup (post coronavirus layoffs) was supposed to deliver its first vehicle this year, but needed additional support to maintain its development program. Axis claimed it went for a cool $1.2 billion, meaning Amazon got a pretty sweet deal vs its $3.2-billion valuation from a few years ago, but that sum has yet to be confirmed by either company.
It measures just under 12 feet long, about a foot shorter than a standard Mini Cooper. The vehicle is being tested in the company's base of Foster City, California, as well as Las Vegas and San Francisco, Zoo said Monday.
Zoo, based Foster City in Silicon Valley, was founded in 2014 and acquired by Amazon in June. On Monday, the firm unveiled a prototype of its new ride-hailing “robot” and made headlines around the world.
Inside, it has four seats that all face each other to encourage passengers to hold conversations and specialized airbags for each seat, citing safety as a key focus for the company. Zoo hopes its new car could transport passengers all day stopping only to recharge at nighttime.
“You want a robot driving as much as possible, and idle as little as possible,” Zoo chief technology officer Jesse Levinson explained to CNN Business. There's no word yet on when these robot axis will be considered safe enough to use on public roads but the firm did reveal it won't be in 2021, reports Bloomberg Television.