Autonomous mobility company Zoox claims to have deployed the world’s first robotaxi with passengers on open public roads.
The company conducted the first run of its employee shuttle service in Foster City,
California, which it says marks the first time in history a purpose-built autonomous robotaxi without traditional driving controls has transported passengers on open public roads.
The trial was preceded by private road testing and Zoox receiving approval from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to operate its robotaxi on the state’s public roads.
According to the autonomous driving company, its robotaxi is the only purpose-built robotaxi permitted on California public roads that is self-certified to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS).
What’s more, Zoox’s ground-up design does not include traditional driving controls like a steering wheel or pedals and incorporates FMVSS performance requirements directly into the vehicle. The company also claims to have added more than 100 safety innovations not available in modern passenger cars.
“Becoming the first company to operate a purpose-built robotaxi with passengers on open public roads in California is a significant milestone in not only Zoox’s journey, but for the autonomous vehicle industry at large,” said Aicha Evans, CEO at Zoox.
“Today, with the announcement of the maiden run of our autonomous employee shuttle, we are adding to the progress this industry has seen over the last year and bringing Zoox one step closer to a commercialised purpose-built robotaxi service for the general public.”
The firm now plans to deploy its employee shuttle service at its California headquarters. The service can carry up to four people at once and travel at speeds of up to 35mph (56km/h).
“The founding premise of Zoox was that the best way to advance transportation and increase safety on our roadways was to reimagine the full mobility experience,” said Jesse Levinson, co-founder and chief technology officer at Zoox.
“That means going beyond retrofitting today’s passenger vehicles with autonomous technology.
“It is a feat of design and engineering – and the culmination of years of hard work – to drive a purpose-built vehicle, fully autonomously and without safety drivers.
“With the ability to operate our vehicle on public roads and the deployment of our employee shuttle service, we’ll continue to refine and improve our technology and operations as we prepare for our commercial service launch.”
According to Zoox, in compliance with the California DMV permit, it will first provide its service to its employees, before expanding to the wider public as progress advances.