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Amazon's Zoox robotaxis will drive faster, further, at night in Las Vegas

Zoox, a self-driving car owned by Amazon, is displayed at the company's plant in Fremont, California, U.S. July 19, 2022

March 14 (mod1s) -’s (AMZN.O), opens new tab self-driving car business, Zoox, is aiming to remain pace of competitor Waymo by extending its vehicles’ testing in California and Nevada to encompass a broader region, greater speeds and nighttime driving. 

The adjustments, announced on Thursday, relate to Zoox's fleet of cars that it developed and manufactured itself. Those resemble toaster ovens on wheels and lack manual controls inside, such steering wheels, pedals and gear shifters. Zoox also runs converted self-driving Toyota Highlanders in Seattle, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Foster City, California.

The changes are minor compared with Alphabet’s (GOOGL.O), opens new tab Waymo, which last week revealed a plan to create a taxi service in Los Angeles, on top of the current markets of San Francisco and Phoenix, where it already ferries people in its modified autonomous Jaguars. 

Zoox claimed it would free up its specifically developed cars to operate at speeds up to 45 miles per hour (72 kph), from 35 mph. It also enlarged the Las Vegas region in which the vehicles may go to five miles from one mile, it added in a statement. “Driving in these larger areas exposes our robotaxis to the busiest conditions they’ve ever encountered,” the business stated.

The Zoox cars will also travel in light rain and at night, the business added, important for collecting more data. 

Like competitors, Zoox is trying to one day replace human drivers with complete self-driving cars that engineers argue are safer and more dependable because they do not fall to human mistake. Zoox has not established a date for when it expects its fully autonomous cars will be commonplace.

Rival General Motors’ (GM.N), opens new tab Cruise ceased testing of its robotaxis last year after authorities accused executives had hidden information from an accident in San Francisco in which a Cruise vehicle struck and pulled a woman about 20 feet (6.1 m)after she was hit by a human-driven car. 

Amazon purchased Zoox in 2020 for more than $1 billion, prompting to speculation it may ultimately utilize the cars as delivery trucks, saving it the expense of paying for drivers. Zoox has not made any disclosures regarding its intentions beyond as robotaxis.


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