06.29.20 - Amazon has recently reached an agreement to acquire autonomous-car developer Zoox, the two companies have announced. The Wall Street Journal first reported in the spring that the Seattle-based e-commerce giant has been in talks to buy Zoox. The autonomous car developer was founded in 2014 and rapidly grew as interest in autonomous vehicles and ride-hailing expanded.
Amazon has been investing heavily in building out the logistics and infrastructure to bring orders directly to customers and cut out the middleman with a whole fleet of planes, trucks/vans, and delivery drivers. Zoox’s ambitions and plans, however, have been focused on developing an autonomous car, or “robotaxi” , designed specifically for passenger rides without a driver.
Jeff Wilke, who runs Amazon’s consumer business, said in a blog post announcing the deal that “Zoox is working to imagine, invent, and design a world-class autonomous ride-hailing experience.”
Amazon has been working on self-driving technology to deliver goods for many years now. It would seem to be a natural fit for its e-commerce business. Last year, the e-commerce business also invested in Aurora, another driverless-technology start-up.
Acquiring Zoox could possibly assist Amazon in using autonomous technology in its deliveries, as well as more effectively move in and compete with ride-hailing and food delivery providers. Amazon said Zoox would operate as a “stand-alone business” and be run by Aicha Evans, Zoox’s chief executive, and Jesse Levinson, its co-founder and technology chief.
Source: Wall Street Journal