Zoox is expanding autonomous robotaxi rides to new US cities


Autonomous technology developer Zoox is continuing its expansion of driverless robotaxi rides across two new cities in the US. This week, the company announced plans to start testing in Miami, Florida, and Austin, Texas, as it looks to begin commercial ride-hailing operations in the cities it’s already established in.

Zoox is one of the rare robotaxi developers actually bringing bespoke driverless technology to the masses. The Silicon Valley-based startup is also unique in that rather than converting existing EVs into ride-hailing vehicles like its competitors (a process facing its own number of issues), Zoox utilizes an entirely purpose-built EV without pedals or a steering wheel.

In February 2023, Zoox 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. The startup has also expanded to Las Vegas, offering public rides in preparation for a full commercial launch, and Seattle, where it has been testing driverless rides in wet weather.

This past March, Zoox offered an update to its robotaxi taxi operations in its current cities, expanding operational hours and routes. Now, Zoox has shared plans to expand to more US cities and will begin robotaxi testing in those metropolitan areas soon.

Zoox robotaxi cities
A Zoox Robotaxi in Austin, Texas: Source: Zoox

Zoox to begin robotaxi testing to cities of Austin and Miami

According to a recent blog post from Zoox, Austin and Miami are the next two targeted cities for robotaxi operations. They are the fourth and fifth regions joining its growing list of public testing areas. Per Zoox’s senior director of policy and regulatory affairs, Ron Thaniel:

We’re laying the foundations for our autonomous ride-hailing service in new cities across the US. Austin and Miami offer key learning opportunities that will support the continued growth and refinement of our testing and service.

Zoox says its expansion to the two latest cities will begin with internal public testing soon. However, it was unclear when Miami or Austin residents may see the bespoke autonomous vehicles cruising around the neighborhoods – tiny areas near the business and entertainment districts, according to Zoox.

To begin, Zoox will conduct a brief mapping mission and then deploy a retrofitted Toyota Highlander test fleet with safety drivers present. The goal of the initial deployment will be to gather valuable insights and feedback before exploring the possibility of commercial rides with its bespoke EVs.

Zoox said it chose Austin and Miami as its following two robotaxi testing cities because the former has horizontal traffic lights, traffic lights hanging on wires, and a reputation for thunderstorms. It chose Miami because the city has traffic lights suspended diagonally across intersections. All should provide valuable data required for safe and efficient driverless ride-hailing services.

While testing is expected to begin in these two cities soon, Zoox relayed that residents should expect public robotaxi rides anytime soon. Instead, its target of commercial ride-hailing operations remains focused on San Francisco and Las Vegas to begin.

In addition to Austin and Miami, Zoox teased that it is “exploring several cities for future commercial offerings” after its initial robotaxi service launch.

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