New York, Dec 15 (Agency) Zoox Inc, the self-driving startup owned by Amazon.com Inc, unveiled a fully autonomous electric vehicle with no steering wheel that can drive day and night on a single charge. The vehicle, which Zoox describes as a driverless carriage or robotaxi, can carry as many as four passengers. With a motor at each end, it travels in either direction and maxes out at 75 miles per hour. Two battery packs, one under each row of seats, generate enough juice for 16 hours of run time before recharging, the company said. To commercialize the technology, Zoox plans to launch an app-based ride-hailing service in cities like San Francisco and Las Vegas.
“This is really about re-imagining transportation,” Zoox Chief Executive Officer Aicha Evans said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “Not only do we have the capital required, we have the long-term vision.” The company also plans to launch ride-hailing services in other countries, Evans said. Executives didn’t say how much rides would cost but that they would be “affordable” and competitive with services operated by Uber Technologies Inc and Lyft Inc. Nor did they say when the service would launch but confirmed it wouldn’t happen in 2021. In a video released Monday, Evans used Zoox’s app to hail the vehicle outside San Francisco’s Fairmont hotel and took a spin around the block. Acquired by Amazon in June for an undisclosed sum, Zoox is one of several companies racing to put fully autonomous vehicles on the road, an effort that’s taking longer than anticipated. Most are testing retrofitted conventional cars on public roads, and few are commercially deployed. In October, Alphabet Inc’s self-driving unit Waymo started a fully driverless taxi service in suburban Phoenix. General Motors Co-backed Cruise LLC is also testing autonomous cars — recently without safety drivers — in San Francisco, using a fleet of electric vehicles based on the Chevy Bolt.