Matthew BeedhamEditor, SHIFT by TNW
Matthew is the editor of SHIFT. He likes electric cars, and other things with wheels, wings, or hulls. Matthew is the editor of SHIFT. He likes electric cars, and other things with wheels, wings, or hulls.
The first vehicle from “self-driving car” from Zoox, the autonomous vehicle company that Amazon purchased for $1.2 billion earlier this year, has been spotted ahead of its official December 14 reveal.
Images first shared on Reddit and then on Twitter show the push-me-pull-you vehicle outside the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. By the looks of things, it was being filmed ahead of its official reveal later this month.
@zoox going all in filming at the @FairmontSF today. Looks like 2021 to me! Exciting future ahead of us! #selfdrivingcars #innovation pic.twitter.com/8XjS4qPOcV
— Christian Claus (@Christian1Claus) December 6, 2020
Zoox, perhaps one of the lesser talked about self-driving startups, hasn’t kept its vehicles entirely under wraps, though.
Over the past few years it’s made no effort to obscure its test vehicles, which have taken the form of modified SUVs, or its autonomous vehicle platform with no bodywork. Really, with these images, we finally get confirmation over how its bodywork will look.
What’s also clear, is that it will have bus-style doors on the side in the middle of the vehicle, which will allow passengers to climb aboard and disembark with ease.
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With that, it also seems that all passenger seats will face each other, oriented towards the middle of the vehicle. We saw this as a possibility when the company hosted a press day at its HQ, and its VH1 test vehicles had that same layout.
Obviously, there is no space for a human driver, because being a self-driving car, it doesn’t need one.
Zoox has also teased a reveal video on its YouTube, which gives virtually nothing away, but does show the shape of the headlights and an obscured silhouette.
The outline of the vehicle echoes the shape of the vehicle in the images shared on Reddit, so I think we can take those as being representative of what will be unveiled next week.
Earlier this year, online commerce giant Amazon bought Zoox for $1.2 billion, making it the company’s largest foray into self-driving tech and one of the company’s biggest ever acquisitions.
At the time, it wasn’t clear what Amazon was going to do with Zoox. The online store already owns a handful of robotics and autonomous vehicle companies that developed its warehouse robots.
Amazon said it wanted to help Zoox realize its dream, but it’s rare that acquisitions of this scale happen just to help out. For now, Zoox is being left to its own devices, but it’s unlikely that will always be the case forever.
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