Yesterday, Amazon announced the acquisition of auto driving startup zoox. Auto driving ushers in a reshuffle?
The news of Amazon’s acquisition of zoox has been in the air. The deal was finalized yesterday, with more than $1.2bn, according to the information and the financial times.
As a self driving star start-up company founded in 2014, the price makes countless people sigh.
You know, zoox has raised nearly US $1 billion during its start-up period, with a valuation of US $3.2 billion in 2018. The investors include grok ventures, aid partners, Tencent and IDG.
According to Amazon’s announcement, zoox will continue to exist as an independent business, with current CEO Aicha Evans, CTO and co-founder Jesse Levinson continuing to serve, and their overall mission will remain unchanged.
This is Amazon’s biggest investment in autonomous driving technology right now. In February last year, Aurora, a driverless car start-up, received a $530 million round B investment, in which Amazon participated. In March 2012, Amazon acquired Kiva systems, a warehouse robot startup, for $775 million.
Interestingly, after the news was released, Tesla boss Elon Musk publicly mocked Bezos as copycat on twitter.
It seems that after the aviation field, the struggle between musk and Bezos in the field of automatic driving will soon be on the table.
Zoox was founded by Australian artist and designer Tim kentley Klay and Jesse levinso in 2014, mainly developing autonomous driving technology. Zoox became the first company approved to provide driverless transportation services to the public in California. Zoox appointed Aicha Evans, a former Intel chief strategy officer, as CEO, marking the company’s transition from conceptualization to commercialization.
Zoox previously raised $990 million, valued at $3.2 billion. Recently, zoox announced that it will deploy autonomous Toyota Highlander in Las Vegas. At present, the company has obtained the automatic driving passenger carrying license from the Nevada vehicle authority (DMV), and its documents submitted to DMV of California show that the automatic driving mileage of its 58 vehicles operating in San Francisco in 2019 reaches 67015 miles.
Zoox had hoped to break through the automatic driving of highland cars and turn to fully customizable self driving cars, and users could call the vehicles through the mobile phone app. Electric vehicles similar to BMW I3 use cameras and four lidar sensors to sense the environment, each covering a 270 degree field of view. These cars are designed with four-wheel steering system, active suspension and dual batteries, and the total capacity of the batteries exceeds that of most cars today.
Zoox hopes to ease traffic congestion through fleet management. Zoox’s fully driverless car is designed to operate as a shared fleet to maximize efficiency and reduce travel time.
Where will zoox go after the acquisition
According to Amazon’s announcement, zoox will exist as an independent business, CEO Aicha Evans and CTO Jesse Levinson will continue to be responsible, and Amazon will help zoox “achieve automatic ride Hailing”.
Amazon, however, has not yet revealed how it will use the technology, and perhaps it will convert zoox’s Robo taxis program into an automated van. According to Reuters, Amazon has more than 210 transportation related patents, including a patent in 2017 that provides transportation services through the autopilot network.
Earlier, Zoox said it showed its autopilot to partners and insiders, but its next phase of deployment is unclear. A few months ago, zoox laid off 120 contract workers because of the epidemic. In addition, in April, zoox and Tesla reached a settlement on the employee theft case, which required zoox to pay an undisclosed amount to Tesla for review.
According to the information, most of zoox’s investors will recoup money from the acquisition. The legendary 1 billion purchase amount proves that the development of autopilot car is still a burning money business.
Earlier, Ford and Volkswagen’s partner Argo AI completed a $2.6 billion financing, with a valuation of $7.25 billion. In May this year, Didi’s autonomous driving part won a $500 million investment led by Softbank vision fund 2. Waymo received an additional investment of US $750 million, with the first round of financing reaching US $3 billion.
With the novel coronavirus pneumonia worldwide and its economic damage, the field of automatic driving seems to be stretched. Cruise, Kodiak robotics and Ike all reported layoffs.
Analysts predict that the epidemic crisis will bring integration and turbulence to the automatic driving industry. Ford’s autopilot service will be postponed from 2021 to 2022. Waymo CEO John Krafcik also said that the COVID-19’s work will be delayed for at least two months, affected by COVID-19.
Brian Collie, a Boston Consulting firm, said widespread commercialization of autonomous driving would not be possible until 2025 or 2026, at least three years later than expected.
Editor in charge: PJ