zoox is the first in the industry to showcase a driving, purpose-built robotaxi capable of operating up to 75 miles per hour.
an autonomous four-wheel drive fully electric vehicle is not breaking news anymore. but amazon announcing it’s new ride-sharing robotaxi along with its vision for the future of urban mobility concept certainly is.
as concept cars go the robotaxi offers pretty familiar features but she also has several unique laudable features: bidirectional driving capabilities and four-wheel steering, which enables maneuvering through compact spaces and changing directions without the need to reverse; a four-seat, face-to-face symmetrical seating configuration that eliminates the steering wheel.
the vehicle has one of the smallest footprints in the automotive industry, about a foot shorter than a standard mini cooper and features a 133 kwh battery, one of the largest available in electric vehicles today, allowing it to operate for up to 16 continuous hours on a single charge.
primarily envisioned for short rides in urban environments, passengers will have an app to hail the vehicle, much as they do with uber and lyft today. we’re led to believe that robotaxi should soon be in business in san francisco and las vegas as these cities are in the vehicles database. not sure how i feel about going 75 mph however.
inceptive [ rivian ], who debuted an all-electric truck and suv at this year’s los angeles auto show this past november is rumored to land amazon and gm as new investors.
“rivian is being cast in the same light as tesla, a startup that’s outside the inner circle of the auto industry, and that’s appealing to gm,” said jeff schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at researcher lmc automotive. “gm could clearly do an electric pickup itself — it has the technology and a strong base of pickup buyers. but they don’t have rivian’s image and separation.
also like tesla, rivian acquired a vehicle assembly plant for a bargain from an established automaker. it bought a factory in normal, ill., for $16 million from mitsubishi motors in early 2017. tesla builds its electric cars at a facility shuttered by toyota, after gm pulled out of a joint-manufacturing venture as part of its 2009 bankruptcy.
founded by ceo rj scaringe in 2009, rivian employs about 700 people at its michigan headquarters, technology and engineering operations in california and the mitsubishi plant in normal.
rivian executives have said their r1t electric pickup will be able to reach 60 miles an hour in three seconds and tow 11,000 pounds. deliveries are expected to start in 2020.
parcel delivery is an ideal use for electric autos, as the vehicles can begin and end trips at designated charging points and take anxiety over battery range out of the equation.
amazon is expanding its delivery capabilities through a network of independent contractors. some drive their own vehicles, guided by an amazon smartphone app. others lease fleets of vans and hire teams of drivers.
“this gives amazon the ability to jump into the automotive space,” schuster said. “they’re probably thinking of delivery applications. and this gives them a safe entree.”
15 february 2019 update / rivian lands $700 million amazon-led investment as it powers up in normal