Amazon set to revolutionise autonomous driving with Zoox
While this looks to be the addordable way, but will it be a safe one as well?
A few years ago, we were made aware of technology companies like Apple and Google yearning to penetrate the autonomous vehicle business. While Google may have remotely initiated its venture via Waymo, Apple is yet to kickstart its autonomous revolution. And to spice up this segment even further now, Amazon joins the bandwagon as well.
In a recent blogpost by the e-commerce firm, Amazon announced its acquisition of autonomous ride-hailing startup Zoox. This alliance will see the e-commerce giant foray into the autonomous mobility sector while providing the required monetary support and its extensive logistical expertise to the emerging ride-hailing business.
Started in 2014, Zoox wants to divulge into the on-demand mobility segment, just like Uber and Lyft. However, the point where this Amazon-backed company wants to distinguish itself is by providing indigenous vehicles explicitly developed for ride-hailing services which will be operated on total autonomous, or in technical terms, level 5 autonomous driving technology.
Much to the annoy of enthusiasts, these purpose-built vehicles will necessarily take the shape of little transportation capsules rather than something dynamic. However, for easier manoeuvrability, these people-carriers are said to get four-wheel-steering function as well as various drive modes like two-wheel-steering or all-wheel-steering majorly seen on performance vehicles. The coolest function? Crab steering or the ability to move all four wheels in the same direction. Could parking a car get more convenient?
"Since Zoox's inception six years ago, we have been singularly focused on our ground-up approach to autonomous mobility," said Jesse Levinson, Zoox co-founder and CTO. "Amazon's support will markedly accelerate our path to delivering safe, clean, and enjoyable transportation to the world."
Zoox further joins the small group of carmakers, eyeing to get their autonomous vehicles in the cab industry. If it wasn't for the coronavirus pandemic, American carmaker Ford had plans of introducing its batch of self-driving taxis shortly. The same can be said for Mercedes Benz and EV-giant Tesla whose plans of putting self-driving cabs on the road in the imminent future is now experiencing periodic hiccups.
However, with respect to the home-grown autonomous vehicles by Zoox, one aspect which irks me is safety. If I sit in an autonomous cab made by an established carmaker, I would feel relatively secure inside the car, knowing it must've gone through a series of crash tests. But, I admit I would feel pessimistic if asked to ride an indigenously-build, largely skeletal-framed Zoox vehicle, especially when I don't have an accountable human onboard in case of a collision.