Amazon has purchased Zoox, a developer of autonomous vehicles, for $1.2 billion.
According to Forbes, the retail and technology giant has invested in several self-driving start-up companies, including Aurora Innovation and Rivian Automotive. However, the acquisition of Zoox on June 26 is its first acquisition in the space. Zoox has been developing purpose-built, zero-emissions vehicles designed for autonomous ride-hailing, along with an end-to-end autonomy software stack.
Zoox CEO Aicha Evans, an African American woman who has been at the company for almost two years, will stay on in her current position. Evans believes the company is now in a position to realize its full potential.
“This acquisition solidifies Zoox’s impact on the autonomous driving industry,” Evans said in a Zoox release. “We have made great strides with our purpose-built approach to safe, autonomous mobility, and our exceptionally talented team working every day to realize that vision. We now have an even greater opportunity to realize a fully autonomous future.”
Zoox has been testing autonomous vehicles in Las Vegas and San Francisco since 2014, and many have referred to it as a “robotaxi” service. However, it seems Amazon has other plans for autonomous vehicle company.
Amazon purchased the company with last-mile delivery in mind. This could be a significant cost-cutting venture for Amazon, which ships more than 2.5 billion packages per year.
If the tech giant can cut labor costs by automating ground delivery, it could save them millions, while at the same time putting them in better shape than Federal Express and the United States Parcel Service.
“We now have an even greater opportunity to realize a fully autonomous future,” Chief Safety Innovation Officer Mark Rosekind said. “We’re going to start seeing three to five years where people start actually deploying in cities, but it’s going to be 20 to 30 years before you start seeing this all over the place.”
Amazon was recently blasted after founder Jeff Bezos released a statement supporting Black Lives Matter. Many have pointed to the fact that the tech giant’s facial recognition software is used by law enforcement agencies across the country. In response to the backlash, Amazon announced a one-year ban on the software for law enforcement, but many have said it should’ve never been available for agencies to use.