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Amazon to Acquire Self-Driving Start-Up Zoox For More Than US$1.2bn

Six-year old self-driving technology start-up Zoox is to be acquired by Amazon, for a fee believed to be above US$1.2bn. Amazon is expected to work with Zoox which will continue to operate as a standalone business to create a fleet of self-driving taxis, and perhaps also to build a network of self-driving delivery vehicles. Talks between the two companies were first reported in the press in May 2020 – Zoox had been planning to launch a pilot programme this year, but the COVID-19 pandemic led to employee redundancies and a need for a quick sale. The sale price was said to be at a steep discount to the $3.8bn valuation set in a funding round in 2018. Zoox’s sensor suite includes multiple RGB cameras, radar, lidar and proprietary sensors. Testing has been carried out predominantly in the crowded streets of San Francisco, and also in Las Vegas. The company’s technology is focused on developing a purpose-built vehicle with no steering wheel (level 5 automation), as opposed to other peers such as Waymo and Cruise that aim to adapt existing cars for self-driving. With Amazon formally entering the urban RoboTaxi race, there will be increasing competitive pressures to the current incumbents such as Uber, Lyft and GM-Cruise.

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