Las Vegas, known for its glitz and glamour, has become a hub for autonomous vehicle experimentation, and Zoox is now making its mark in the bustling city. The autonomous vehicle developer, which recently celebrated nearly a decade since its inception, has expanded its operations to Nevada, specifically in Las Vegas. This move marks a significant milestone for Zoox as it becomes the first company to introduce purpose-built robotaxis on public roads in the Silver State.
Zoox, led by CEO Aicha Evans, has been at the forefront of autonomous vehicle technology and has gained attention for its unique design approach. Unlike other companies in the robotaxi space, Zoox has developed a custom electric vehicle (EV) explicitly tailored for this segment. Notably, these vehicles are designed without a traditional steering wheel and pedals, reflecting Zoox's commitment to fully autonomous driving.
Having unveiled their all-electric, autonomous shuttles in 2020, Zoox has diligently tested its fleet in various cities, including San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Seattle. With over one million autonomous miles under their belt, Zoox has made significant strides in refining its technology.
Last summer, Zoox achieved a remarkable feat by becoming the first company to self-certify a purpose-built, fully-autonomous passenger EV under the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). This certification paved the way for their initial rides on public roads in California earlier this year.
Building on their success in California, Zoox has now expanded their operations to Las Vegas, Nevada. As of June 16, their driverless robotaxi has been actively operating on public roads around the city. Zoox's testing has been authorized by the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles, allowing them to conduct trials in a one-mile loop near their Las Vegas headquarters, which has been their base of operations since 2020.
While other companies have established a presence in Nevada, Zoox stands out as the first to introduce purpose-built robotaxis on public roads in the state. These bespoke electric vehicles have the capacity to transport up to four passengers at a time, initially reaching speeds of up to 35 mph, with the potential to achieve speeds of up to 75 mph. Zoox plans to gradually expand its rides, starting with testing by their own employees and eventually extending their services to the public in the coming months.
Zoox is keen on gathering valuable data from its operations in both California and Las Vegas, as it seeks to fine-tune its technology for a successful commercial launch. The robotaxis currently navigating the streets of Las Vegas will face various challenges, including unprotected left turns, multiway stops, and common road obstacles such as cyclists, pedestrians, and other vehicles. Jesse Levinson, Zoox's co-founder and CTO, emphasized the significance of this progress:
“Deploying our robotaxi on open public roads in California and now Nevada is a big step for Zoox. Driving autonomously in these two unique but equally challenging locations will provide us with invaluable learnings as we fine-tune our technology in preparation for commercial launch.”
As Zoox continues to gather data from its Las Vegas operations, the company remains committed to its goal of bringing driverless rides to the public in Nevada. While no specific timeline has been announced, Zoox's expansion progress thus far is promising, propelling the autonomous vehicle industry forward and setting the stage for a future where driverless transportation is a reality.