Zoox, an Amazon subsidiary, has recently announced the commencement of public road testing for its electric and autonomous robotaxis in Las Vegas.
This groundbreaking development signifies the first instance of an autonomous vehicle without pedals or a steering wheel operating on Nevada’s public streets.
Zoox’s initial testing phase involves a one-mile loop around the neighborhood adjacent to its Las Vegas facilities. The company intends to expand its testing efforts in the coming months.
During this initial route, the robotaxi will be evaluated for its ability to navigate unprotected turns, multi-way stops, and interact with cyclists, pedestrians, and other vehicles, as highlighted in a blog post.
These robotaxis have the capacity to transport up to four individuals at a maximum speed of 35 miles per hour. Initially, Zoox employees will have access to the service during workday hours.
While the exact number of vehicles and operating hours for this testing phase remain unspecified, a company spokesperson did confirm that multiple Zoox vehicles will be involved in the trials.
Zoox reveals that it has been conducting tests on public roads in Las Vegas since June 16, 2023, while establishing its presence in the city even earlier.
Since 2019, the company has been utilizing a test fleet of Toyota Highlanders equipped with safety drivers to gather data and map the area, with the aim of refining and validating their technology.
In 2020, Zoox established an office and depot in Vegas to support the test fleet. Presently, the company is expanding its operations by adding 190,000 square feet of warehouse and office space to accommodate its growing team and vehicles in the region.
As of this year, Zoox has increased its workforce from 1,900 employees to 2,200, spread across various locations in California, Nevada, and Washington. In Las Vegas, the majority of new hires are for the “mission readiness” team, responsible for fleet maintenance and charging.
This recent deployment in Las Vegas follows Zoox’s introduction of its autonomous vehicles on public roads in Foster City, California, in February.
While the company has a driverless testing permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles and currently transports employees in Foster City, it has not made its vehicles available to the general public.
In comparison to California, Nevada offers a more favorable environment for autonomous vehicle (AV) testing due to its less stringent permitting process overseen by the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles.
The state permits vehicles at all automation levels to operate on public roads, without requiring testing or certification from the DMV.