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Amazon Acquires Self-Driving Startup Zoox

Amazon has purchased self-driving technology startup Zoox for more than $1 billion, the latest show of the online retailer’s interest in vehicles that can operate on their own.

Amazon has previously placed bets on Rivian, which is developing self-driving tech to pair with its electric pickup and SUV; Aurora, which was co-founded by Chris Urmson, the former head of technology for Alphabet’s self-driving cars; and has reportedly used self-driving trucks developed by Embark to haul some cargo.

Zoox was founded in 2014 with the vision of “purpose-built, zero-emissions vehicles designed for autonomous ride-hailing, along with an end-to-end autonomy software stack.”

Amazon said Zoox Chief Executive Aicha Evans and co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer Jesse Levinson will continue to lead the company as a standalone business, according to a release.

“Zoox is working to imagine, invent, and design a world-class autonomous ride-hailing experience,” said Jeff Wilke, CEO of Amazon’s Worldwide Consumer business.

Zoox has also endured some controversy, including a legal fight with Tesla over alleged theft of trade secrets.

The two companies settled in April. “Zoox acknowledges that certain of its new hires from Tesla were in possession of Tesla documents pertaining to shipping, receiving, and warehouse procedures when they joined Zoox’s logistics team,” the startup said in a statement to Reuters. Zoox agreed to pay Tesla an undisclosed amount of money and perform an audit to “ensure that no Zoox employees have retained or are using Tesla confidential information.”

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This is a great deal for Amazon. I suspect we will see Zoox powered autonomous delivery vehicles for Amazon in a few years. They can be L4 and be geofenced around distribution centers and deliver packages from the local distribution center to nearby customers in a given area. Zoox seems ideal for that type of autonomous vehicle as they have good L4 and can easily map the areas that each vehicle will be geofenced to.
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