Zoox expands routes, operational hours, and top speed of its bespoke driverless robotaxis

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Autonomous technology developer Zoox shared its latest milestone in a blog post today, expanding its unique driverless robotaxi operations in California and Nevada. The growth includes a broader net of available autonomous routes, longer hours in different weather conditions, and higher top speeds… all without pedals!

Zoox is a unique robotaxi developer with a decade of experience bringing bespoke driverless technology to the masses. The startup is unique in that rather than converting existing EVs into robotaxis like its competitors (a process facing its own number of issues), Zoox has designed and begun implementing an entirely purpose-built EV without pedals or a steering wheel.

In February 2023, Zoox initially began rides on public roads in Foster City, California – marking the first time a purpose-built autonomous vehicle without any manual controls had done so. In June 2023, Zoox expanded public rides to Las Vegas in preparation for a full commercial launch.

That initial route in Sin City consisted of a one-mile loop near Zoox’s Las Vegas headquarters, offering the ability to transport up to four passengers at speeds up to 35 mph. However, the driverless EVs can achieve speeds up to 75 mph. At the time, we reported initial test rides would be conducted by Zoox employees before “expanding over the coming months.”

Eight months later, Zoox offered a progress update on robotaxi operations in both cities, moving ever closer to commercial operations.

Zoox expands robotaxi operations in California and Nevada

Zoox shared several progress updates in a recent blog post, beginning with expanding its Las Vegas geofence. The invisible autonomous driving boundary has grown to a five-mile route from Zoox’s headquarters to the south end of the strip, with multiple routes available in between.

The company says these routes have exposed its EVs to their busiest driving conditions to date, encountering three-land roads, lane changes, unprotected right turns onto high-speed roads and double-turn lanes. Additionally, Zoox robotaxi EVs in both Foster City and Las Vegas have had their top speeds bolstered to 45 mph.

Significant progress has also been made on Zoox’s hardware and software front. Its perception system has been improved to dissociate reflections from water droplets and puddles that can distract the EV’s LiDAR sensors. Using big data, Zoox has bolstered its robotaxi perception system for inclement weather and adjustments between day and night on the road.

As a result, Zoox has expanded its operational robotaxi hours to now include nighttime driving and continued service under light rain and damp road conditions. Following these expansions, Zoox says it is closer than ever to commercial operations and paid customer rides, hopefully this year. Per the blog post:

Deploying our robotaxi in a larger geofence is a big milestone for Zoox. Operating autonomously at higher speeds, with required lane changes, in light rain, and at night are key achievements too—they’re complex scenarios that are required to operate our service.

As always, safety is foundational to Zoox, so we’ll continue to be measured and thoughtful in our approach to commercialization. These critical updates bring us closer to safely and confidently offering Zoox to the public. We can’t wait for you to experience your first ride later this year!

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