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Zoox Robotaxi: Welcome to Autonomous Ride Sharing

Updated: Mar 8, 2023

This Innovation Just Took its First Trip on Public Roads

This past February, ZOOX and its robotaxi took their first voyage on open public roads. This was its employees’ first taste of their new autonomous shuttle service, with dozens of team members enjoying the experience. For the first time in history, a purpose-built robotaxi — without any manual controls — drove autonomously with passengers—no steering wheel. No pedals. As ZOOX states succinctly as its company’s philosophy, this was an experience built for riders, not drivers.

How it Works So how exactly does this autonomous shuttle service work? The ZOOX Robotaxi is a fully electric vehicle that seats up to four people and uses endless sensors, software, and machine learning to navigate city streets. This data is funneled to the onboard computational equipment that houses the ZOOX software. This software is responsible for mapping predefined locations, identifying road objects, predicting unforeseen driving hazards, and planning an overall safe drive.

The ZOOX boasts it can see the equivalent of 150 meters in all directions, thereby seeing hazards well before they become dangerous. The company says it will eventually be able to drive in both directions on any road, in any weather condition — day or night. This a bold statement by any company considering all the variables at play. They attribute their confidence to cameras, LiDAR, and radar sensors that constantly scan the environment and identify obstacles.

One question is how the system accounts for those “rare instances.” There are roughly 1% (and slowly diminishing) rare instances where ZOOX’s AI can become stumped. ZOOX has several standby operators on hand to provide Teleguidance in these situations. This additional redundancy ensures the vehicle’s safe journey from point a to point b.

The Particulars The ZOOX robotaxis aren’t the largest vehicles on the road at only 3.63 meters (11.9 feet) long. Inside you will find passenger bench seats that face each other with what seems like ample legroom.

In addition to a large field of view through the side doors and sunroof, the robotaxi comes with wireless charging capabilities and a few cupholders to make your commute comfortable.

The vehicles come equipped with 4-Wheel Driving making them highly maneuverable. They can also travel at speeds up to 75 MPH and run 16 hours on a charge, thanks to the immense 133kWh battery packs.

What About Safety? Let’s face it, no matter how many redundancy systems and sensors are in place, there will always be those “Accidents and unforeseen.” This is not lost at ZOOX, hence the reason they have incorporated over 100 safety innovations into their robotaxi. The one innovation I was most intrigued with was the reimagined airbag.

Including wraparound curtain airbags, frontal airbags, rear airbags, side head airbags, and seat side airbags is a good start. Until ZOOX invents force fields, this will have to do!

The First Ride For the first ride on public roads, ZOOX employees enjoyed a smooth 15-minute journey through San Francisco’s Financial District and Chinatown without touching a single button or lever. “I felt like I was in the future,” said one rider. Another commented on how the experience changed their perception of self-driving cars: “I used to be really scared of autonomous vehicles. But after today, I feel a lot better about it.”

Looking Ahead This is just the beginning for ZOOX. The company will now offer its full-time employees robotaxi rides between its offices. This service will eventually expand to the general public as they secure government approvals, but don’t expect this to happen soon!

Conclusion: ZOOX’s Robotaxi took its first trip on public roads this past February, and it was a success! This autonomous shuttle service is fully electric and can seat up to four people. Even more impressive is that the Robotaxi has no manual controls — no steering wheel or pedals. If you’re looking for a hassle-free way to get around town, keep your eye out for the ZOOX Robotaxi — the future of transportation is here.

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