Amazon Acquires Zoox
Amazon has taken its boldest step yet into self-driving vehicles, acquiring six-year-old start-up Zoox, the company announced today.
Amazon said the deal will help bring Zoox’s “vision of autonomous ride-hailing to reality.”
Zoox will continue to operate as a standalone business within Amazon, with CEO Aicha Evans and Jesse Levinson, the company’s co-founder and CTO, continuing to lead the team, Amazon said.
"Zoox is working to imagine, invent, and design a world-class autonomous ride-hailing experience," said Jeff Wilke, Amazon’s CEO, Worldwide Consumer.
"Like Amazon, Zoox is passionate about innovation and about its customers, and we're excited to help the talented Zoox team to bring their vision to reality in the years ahead."
"This acquisition solidifies Zoox's impact on the autonomous driving industry," said Aicha Evans, CEO of Zoox.
"We have made great strides with our purpose-built approach to safe, autonomous mobility, and our exceptionally talented team working every day to realize that vision. We now have an even greater opportunity to realize a fully autonomous future."
Large Deal for Amazon
As reported by CNBC, the Zoox acquisition is a large deal for Amazon, which acquired Whole Foods for $13.7 billion in 2017 but has otherwise generally made acquisitions of less than $1 billion.
With regulators bearing down on Amazon’s every move because of its dominance in e-commerce and treatment of warehouse workers during the coronavirus pandemic, the purchase of Zoox is certain to attract scrutiny from lawmakers and criticism from rivals.
It’s not immediately clear what Amazon plans to do with Zoox’s technology, but it’s possible Amazon could integrate Zoox’s offerings into its logistics network to offer cheaper and faster delivery, as well as its cashier-less grocery stores.
Jeff Bezos Excited by Autonomous Transportation
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has made no secret of his excitement about the potential of autonomous driving.
The company has been using self-driving trucks developed by Embark to haul some cargo on the I-10 interstate highway, and Bezos told employees at an all-hands staff meeting last year that he’s fascinated by recent developments in the auto industry.
Read: Why Elon Musk Accelerated Tesla Semi Truck Production
Amazon has been working on its own autonomous vehicle technology projects, including its last-mile delivery robots, which are six-wheeled sidewalk-treading bots designed to carry small packages to customer homes.
This will not be the first investment Amazon has made in self-driving car technology.
Last year the eCommerce giant took part in a funding round for Aurora Innovation, an autonomous tech startup helmed by the former head of Google’s self-driving car project. Amazon has also invested in electric vehicle startup Rivian.
As Brad Templeton mentions, the creation of a robotic delivery fleet by Amazon would be a blow to large shippers like FedEx and UPS.
Amazon has become a huge shipper, and electric robotic delivery vehicles would be highly cost-effective and efficient.
While Amazon has pushed the world into pretending everything has free shipping, the reality, of course, is that the cost of shipping does matter. Amazon’s competitors would face an even harder battle fighting off the giant.
Related Article: 5 Impacts of Autonomous Freight Trucking on Supply Chains