Going All-in On the Autonomous Dream

Human beings have surely proven themselves to be good at many different things, but at the same time, there is little we do better than growing on a consistent basis. This tendency to improve, no matter the situation, has got us to hit upon some huge milestones, with technology emerging as quite a major member of the group. The reason why we hold technology in such a high regard is, by and large, predicated upon its skill-set, which realized all the possibilities for us that nobody could have ever imagined otherwise. Nevertheless, if we look beyond the surface, it will quickly become clear how the whole runner was also very much inspired from the way we applied those skills across a real world environment. The latter component, in fact, did a lot to give the creation a spectrum-wide presence and start what was a full-blown tech revolution. Of course, this revolution then went on to scale up the human experience from every conceivable direction, but even after achieving a feat so notable, technology will somehow keep on delivering the goods. The same has turned increasingly evident over the last few years, and assuming a new development on the automotive block ends up making the desired impact, it will only grow that trend into something far bigger and better moving forward.

Amazon-owned Zoox has officially landed the necessary approval to drive its robotaxi, which comes without any steering wheel or pedals, on the roads of California, and it can do so with passengers onboard. The approval came shortly after some driving tests where the Zoox vehicle drove a two-mile loop “dozens of times” on open roads with passengers in the vehicle. If we go by the company’s word here, the robotaxi was able to deliver a glitch-free technical demonstration, while also showcasing optimal efficiency in terms of navigating through several practical elements, such as other vehicles, pedestrians, traffic lights, unprotected cross traffic, and more. Despite the reliable performance, though, Zoox can only test its robotaxi across a limited area in Foster City, California. Furthermore, the vehicle must not exceed the top speed of 40 mph. Hold on, there is more. The robotaxi can hit the road on just two days i.e. Saturday and Sunday during a week, and even on those days, it cannot drive past the daytime or under a bad weather.

Make no mistake; Zoox isn’t the only company looking to build its own autonomous vehicle. For instance, Cruise, a subsidiary of General Motors, is also planning to start the mass production of its Origin vehicle. Now, Zoox has tried to take a unique position by claiming it is the first player ever to deploy a purpose-built autonomous vehicle on public roads, but there is some doubt regarding the validity of this claim. The stated doubt comes from the fact that Google has already achieved it using a purpose-built Firefly vehicle more than five years ago.

When quizzed about it, Jesse Levinson, founder and CTO of Zoox, took to how Google’s take was never built to comply with federal standards.

“Firefly was also never designed for production, as it was clearly a test/research vehicle platform (which Waymo then abandoned). In contrast, the Zoox robotaxi complies with the complete set of FMVSS, is fully street-legal, and has a comprehensive set of safety and comfort features for our riders,” Levinson added.

It remains, at the moment, unknown when the Zoox robotaxi will reach commercialization, but once it does, the vehicle will likely support multiple use cases. This includes carrying passengers, facilitating e-commerce deliveries, and plenty other applications.

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