Amazon buys autonomous tech start-up Zoox
Despite question marks around the feasibility and ROI of autonomous driving and the global coronavirus pandemic – or perhaps thanks to the latter, worldwide online retailer Amazon has acquired self-driving vehicle start up Zoox.
The potential cost-saving for automated deliveries is tantalising, to say the least. Shipping costs are one of Amazon’s largest expenses, and according to Morgan Stanley analysts, Zoox could help the company save more than $20 billion per year.
Autonomous vehicles have been the subject of billions of dollars of investment and millions of hours of research and development. Still, the regulatory and technical hurdles seem harder to tackle than initially estimated, causing many big-buck investors to withdraw from the business.
COVID-19, the accelerator
Amazon has been faring quite well since the global coronavirus outbreak. People across the world have been buying things online to an extent never seen before and even now that measures are slowly being relaxed, consumers seem to prefer home delivery over going to the stores themselves.
It seems as if the Seattle-based online retailer now has spare cash to spend in an area of its business that until now it had been outsourcing: logistics. Zoox is based in California and has been developing a prototype for driverless cars for ride hailing. Amazon is likely to see at least as much potential in using the vehicles to deliver packages.
Photo credit: Zoox, 2020