Electronic Vehicles
(Photo : Pixabay/PhotoMIX-Company) EV Zoox

Amazon's autonomous vehicle startup, Zoox, is set to launch its service in Seattle, Washington. Amazon bought the self-driving vehicle company in 2020. 

The e-commerce giants plan to open its office and facility next year, which will act as a base for its testing.

Amazon's Zoox Company to Expand in Seattle

Zoox currently has more than 1,300 employees. It has tested its autonomous vehicles in three cities: Las Vegas, Nevada, San Francisco, California, and Foster City, California, according to The Verge. 

Amazon bought Zoox for $1 billion in 2020. The company began testing its autonomous vehicles on the public roads of Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2019. 

The engineering office and operations facility will be staffed with new employees, according to Jesse Levinson, the co-founder and CTO of Zoox. 

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Levinson did not disclose the exact number of employees in its Seattle facility, but he did say that it is part of their goal to create 450 new jobs this year. 

According to TechCrunch, while Zoox is gearing up to expand in Seattle, where Amazon's headquarters is based, Levison said the two companies would work separately.

The office and operations hub of Zoox will not be placed on Amazon's headquarters. Zoox will work with Amazon on numerous collaborations in the future, especially when it comes to vehicle testing. Levinson said that future collaborations would be an extra bonus. 

Levison added that Zoox has been eyeing the city of Washington as its test site for years. The vehicle company even completed a small pilot in Seattle in 2019. The frequency of rain in the city is one of the main reasons why the company picked Seattle. 

Levison said they want an operational design domain or ODD with a significant amount of rain and a frequent amount of rain for effective vehicle testing. They moved to Seattle because it does not rain much in San Francisco, and it rains less in Las Vegas. 

Zoox's autonomous vehicle is one of Amazon's projects focusing on, including the autonomous delivery truck in 2020. 

Zoox's Reason for Moving to Seattle

Zoox has created advanced weatherproofing, including active rain mitigation for the vehicle's sensors, according to Engadget. 

Levinson said they are excited about the mitigation, and they want to test it and validate it when it rains, and Seattle is the best place to do it. 

Zoox is also interested in the city because of its several tunnels and differentiated road network topology policy toward autonomous vehicles. They also like the city because it is the ideal area to launch a commercial robotaxi service. 

Levison stated that they announced in 2019 that San Francisco and Las Vegas are the two target cities that they've been working on to launch the robotaxis, and they are still working on it. 

But when it comes to expansion, Seattle is the best place to launch the service. 

Zoox is planning to test the Level 3 fleet of vehicles in the city. The vehicles are Toyota Highlanders that are equipped with an autonomous vehicle system. 

The sensor architecture on its Level 3 testing fleet matches that of its autonomous electric robotaxi. The robotaxi will not have any steering wheel. It will have a moonroof that can transport up to four people up to 75 miles per hour. 

The testing of its Level 3 vehicles will pave the way for its Level 5 vehicle.  

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Written by Sophie Webster

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