Although it’s one of the top-funded automotive startups, Zoox has let few people inside. This month, Bloomberg took a test drive.
Of the almost 50 companies that have permits to test autonomous vehicles in California, the most radical and mysterious member of this self-driving car club is Zoox. At long last, however, the startup with the funny name is ready to show some of what it has been up to on San Francisco’s streets.
Founded in 2014, Zoox Inc. has raised more than $250 million. It has used this money not only to develop self-driving technology but also to rethink the car altogether. Unlike most, if not all, of its rivals, Zoox has tried to build a new type of vehicle—one that assumes self-driving abilities from the get-go. This means no steering wheel, seats that face each other like those in a limo and a host of novel safety features that a true robotic car would need in order to communicate with other drivers and pedestrians to make its intentions clear. Add to this an Uber-like service for requesting rides and managing a fleet of cars, and, well, Zoox has taken on an awful lot. The company is poised to either revolutionize the transportation industry or flop with rarefied skill, and, my word, do many of us want to know which it will be.
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