Could Amazon be making plans to rival Tesla’s planned robo-taxi fleet?
The retail giant’s interest in buying autonomous vehicle startup Zoox, as reported by the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, is most likely motivated by cutting delivery costs for its retail business, but other possibilities have analysts abuzz.
Readers will remember that in December 2019, Australian tech entrepreneur Michael Cannon-Brookes, whose venture capital company Grok Ventures is a major backer in Zoox, said he expects that “robot cars” will be a reality by 2021. He is believed to have invested a significant amount of money into the company.
The “advanced talks” between Amazon and Zoox covered exclusively by the WSJ come after The Information reported that the self-driving startup was looking for a buyer, or a fresh round of funding to help it remain independent.
Now, it has been reported that Amazon’s talks to close a deal with Zoox would value it at less than the $US3.2 billion ($A4.8 billion) it last raised in 2018 after its initial $US955 million ($A1.44 billion) fundraise in 2014.
Zoox’s self-driving vehicle technology seeks to achieve fully-autonomous driving in complex environments. It is one of a handful of companies putting serious dollars into developing autonomous technology, such as Tesla, Google’s Waymo, and GM’s Cruise.
While Tesla is implementing its Full Self Driving package incrementally to Tesla vehicle owners using in-built sensors placed around the vehicle body, Zoox’s technology uses 360-degree sensors placed on top of the vehicle.
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