Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Business Insider

Amazon Shakes Up the Race for Self-Driving—and Ride-Hailing

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi says his company wants to be the “Amazon for transportation.” Friday, Amazon made clear that it intends to be the Amazon for transportation.

The ecommerce giant said it had agreed to acquire Bay Area–based autonomous vehicle company Zoox, a deal reportedly worth more than $1 billion. (Amazon did not respond to WIRED’s queries.) Since its founding in 2014, Zoox has been known for its technical chops, its secretiveness, and its sky-high ambition. While Alphabet’s Waymo is focusing on self-driving tech and leaving the car building to places like Detroit, Zoox has stuck to its plan to design a robotaxi from the ground up—and operate a ride-hail service. In 2018, it showed off its first prototype vehicles, which look like sensor-laden golf carts on steroids. The company has also been testing its software on more conventional-looking Toyota Highlanders in San Francisco, where it is learning to handle chaotic city streets.

In a press release, Amazon signaled that it will not stray from Zoox’s formidable self-driving goals. “We’re acquiring Zoox to help bring their vision of autonomous ride hailing to reality,” it wrote in the headline. Jeff Wilke, Amazon CEO of global consumer, said in a statement that “Zoox is working to imagine, invent, and design a world-class autonomous ride-hailing experience.”

Which means the autonomous-taxi race just got more interesting. Amazon’s entrance to the space “is an existential threat to Uber and Lyft,” says Asad Hussain, a mobility tech analyst at the market analytics company Pitchbook.

In theory, autonomous vehicles and ride-hail services go hand in hand. As Uber and Lyft struggle to iron out the economics of trips, both continue to spend millions each year recruiting and retaining drivers. Moves by states including New York and California to require those drivers to be considered employees further threaten their business models. A self-driving car wouldn’t need a driver.

But lately, robotaxis have seemed to hit a rut, as the tech has proved more challenging than tech and auto executives once promised. In the last two years, well-funded competitors like Uber, Lyft, Waymo, Cruise (a subsidiary of General Motors), and ArgoAI (which is owned in part by Ford and Volkswagen) have delayed their timelines for deploying self-driving vehicles. Amazon acquired Zoox for well below its 2018 valuation of $3.2 billion.

Today, only Waymo is running an commercial, autonomous ride-hail service, only in the Phoenix metro area, and only occasionally without someone in the driver’s seat monitoring the nascent tech. In 2015, Chris Urmson, a former Google self-driving head who later cofounded self-driving startup Aurora, suggested his 11-year-old son might never need a driver’s license; the son has started learning to drive. Just this week, Aurora signaled it would shift its focus away from self-driving taxis and toward self-driving trucks. “If you want to get to market with a safe system quickly, you can do no better than to start in trucking,” Aurora cofounder Sterling Anderson said at an event hosted by The Information.

Image may contain: Vehicle, Transportation, Car, Automobile, Sedan, Sports Car, and Race Car

The WIRED Guide to Self-Driving Cars

How a chaotic skunkworks race in the desert launched what’s poised to be a runaway global industry.

If Amazon pushes ahead with its own ride-hail network using Zoox vehicles, the company may have some built-in advantages. In a note published a month ago, after The Wall Street Journal first reported that the Zoox deal was in the works, Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak wrote that the company could offer discounts to its 100-million-plus Prime members, as it does at Whole Foods. He also theorized that Amazon could jump ahead of automakers, whose ability to pay for moon-shot tech like autonomous vehicles has waned during the Covid-19–induced recession. “In a post-Covid world, we believe fewer and more powerful players will be in position to deploy capital and talent to solving autonomy with a ‘play to win’ mindset,” Nowak wrote.

Your information is secure and your privacy is protected. By opting in you agree to receive emails from us. Remember that you can opt-out any time, we hate spam too!



A Philippines Peso note is seen in this picture illustration June 2, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration The Philippines remains under a “gray” list of countries...

Editor’s Pick

A Brewdog promotion which said customers could win “solid gold” beer cans was misleading, the advertising watchdog has found. The Scottish brewer offered...

Editor’s Pick

There is growing concern that free, face-to-face advice which helps hundreds of thousands out of debt each year could be cut. New contracts...

Editor’s Pick

The Bank of England’s new chief economist has warned that UK inflation is likely to hit or surpass 5% by early next year....


PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS By Luz Wendy T. Noble, Reporter The Philippines expects to narrow its budget deficit, with the government having raised tax...


The Philippine economy is expected to grow by 4.3% this year — slower than originally expected — due to recurring coronavirus infection surges in...

You May Also Like

When people envision technology overtaking society, many think of The Terminator and bulletproof robots. Or Big Brother in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, a symbol...

Financial Advisors

Stock Markets9 hours ago (Jul 02, 2020 04:45AM ET) (C) Reuters. ROME (Reuters) – World food prices rose in June to post their first...


SAN FRANCISCO — The spread of the coronavirus has meant feast or famine for technology start-ups. While many are cutting staff and slashing costs...


OAKLAND, Calif. — Jack Dorsey has won plaudits for his corporate activism during the coronavirus crisis, taking on President Trump in his role as...

Disclaimer: Respect, its managers, its employees, and assigns (collectively "The Company") do not make any guarantee or warranty about what is advertised above. Information provided by this website is for research purposes only and should not be considered as personalized financial advice. The Company is not affiliated with, nor does it receive compensation from, any specific security. The Company is not registered or licensed by any governing body in any jurisdiction to give investing advice or provide investment recommendation. Any investments recommended here should be taken into consideration only after consulting with your investment advisor and after reviewing the prospectus or financial statements of the company.

Copyright © 2021 Respect Investment. All Rights Reserved.

Your information is secure and your privacy is protected. By opting in you agree to receive emails from us. Remember that you can opt-out any time, we hate spam too!