This article was published on December 7, 2020

Amazon’s self-driving Zoox vehicle spotted ahead of next week’s reveal

It's Amazon's $1.2B self-driving pet project

Amazon’s self-driving Zoox vehicle spotted ahead of next week’s reveal

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, 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.

zoox, vehicles
Credit: Steve Jurvetson - via Flickr
Zoox Test Vehicles at the original HQ, a former firehouse at SLAC. The VH moniker was used for all the early proof-of-concept test vehicles. It is a reference to an early disparaging press report that Zoox was just “vaporware horseshit.” They embraced and extended to make that manifest!

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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.

[Read: Why AI is the future of home security]

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.

zoox, car, future, autonmous
Credit: Reddit - u/lakhailb87
Image shared on Reddit by Lakailb87. Zoox appeared to be filming outside a hotel in San Francisco. The LiDAR sensors on each corner are clearly visible. If it wasn’t for the red lights, it would be hard to know whether this car is coming or going.

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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