Amazon acquired a company called Zoox to “help bring their vision of autonomous ride-hailing to reality.” It’s important right this minute to be extra clear, here, that Amazon did NOT just acquire the video conferencing brand Zoom – that’s a different company altogether. Amazon acquired Zoox, a California-based company “working to design autonomous ride-hailing vehicles from the ground up.”
Per Amazon, the people already in charge of Zoox will continue to lead the group. That includes Aicha Evans, Zoox CEO, and Jesse Levinson, Zoox co-founder and CTO. Below you’ll see a message from Senior Vice President of Software Engineering for Zoox, Ashu Rege, on how their mission plays into autonomous rides.
In March of 2019, Tesla files a lawsuit against Zoox and several former employees (who left Tesla to work for Zoox). The lawsuit suggested that these Zoox workers stole Tesla proprietary information and trade secrets on warehousing, shipping, and logistics. You can see the full documentation of that lawsuit over at Scribd.
According to Financial Times, Amazon acquired Zoox for “over $1.2 billion”. Amazon’s intentions with Zoox could be to allow Zoox to continue working on autonomous taxis, but it could also be a bid to increase their power in a future fleet of self-driving delivery vehicles for products of all sorts.
Back in September of 2017, the California DMV published a list of companies that it’d granted its first permits to for autonomous vehicle testing. Among big names like Samsung, Tesla, VW, Mercedes, Honda, Ford, Subaru, NVIDIA, and Apple were names like Nuro, Pony.AI, and Zoox!
At around that same time, a report on Amazon’s autonomous car strategy made clear that the company’s efforts would not be to create their own autonomous vehicles from scratch. Instead, they’d be planning on using autonomous vehicles made by car companies that’d already done the work.