Yesterday, Zoox unveiled its long-awaited vehicle. It doesn’t yet have a name (the Zoox website lists it simply as, “VEHICLE”), although the press describes it as a “carriage”, at least in form factor. It resembles the Cruise Origin more than a little bit, including the glass elevator-style doors.
Zoox has done some amazing technical work with this vehicle. Most notably, the vehicle supposedly moves it not only forward and backward, like a normal car, but also side-to-side, like a dolley.
That said, I am a little skeptical about the utility of a four-person passenger vehicle as the true form factor for the self-driving future. We’re used to four-person vehicles now because consumers have to purchase cars that fill lowest-common-denominator needs. In a transportation-as-a-service world, though, I suspect we’ll all want to travel in our own personal vehicles.
It’s been a tough 18 months for self-driving cars. The enthusiasm (and cash) that poured into the industry from 2016 to 2018 has dampened as everyone realizes Level 4 driverless robotaxis are not immediately around the corner.
But companies are still making progress and hiring.
VentureBeat reports that Aurora now boasts 500 employees (including interns!). CEO Chris Urmson says, “With the industry shakeup right now, there’s a lot of new talent on the market, an opportunity we intend to take full advantage of.”