As automatic transportation technology develops, the companies that own it have been seeking out more opportunities to test it out in a live-fire setting. One such company has begun its tests on the streets of California.
Robotaxi company Zoox, a subsidiary of Amazon, began public road tests of its automated vehicles this week. Amazon employees were given the opportunity to ride one of their automated vehicles to and from the company’s two HQ buildings on a pre-established route. Up to four people could ride at once in the vehicle, which can travel up to 35 miles per hour.
“With the announcement of the maiden run of our autonomous employee shuttle, we are adding to the progress this industry has seen over the last year and bringing Zoox one step closer to a commercialized purpose-built robotaxi service for the general public,” Zoox CEO Aicha Evans said in a statement.
A Zoox robotaxi carried dozens of employees on multiple trips via public roads linking two of the company’s offices in Foster City, Calif. The vehicle reached speeds of 35 mph on its two-mile, round-trip route.https://t.co/2b01b9nk9W
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In the event of safety concerns, a human controller can take control of the vehicle to guide it or pull it over. Any and all of these incidents are recorded and reported to Zoox for testing and research purposes. “If the vehicle is in a situation where it needs help because either it needs to do something it’s not normally allowed to do, or because it doesn’t know how to handle a situation, we have what’s called a ‘fusion center,’ with trained guidance operators monitoring the output of the scene and then will give guidance to the vehicle and either give it permission to do something — but the vehicle is still in charge and does all the driving — or drop breadcrumbs on an alternative trajectory, or in the worst-case scenario pull over,” Evans explained.