Amazon has announced that it has acquired Zoox, an autonomous ride-hailing company, for $1,2 billion. The company that is developing a fully autonomous ride-hailing service is led by Aicha Evans, the Senegalese executive who also previously served as a Senior Vice President at Intel.

Evans and Jesse Levinson, co-founder and CTO of Zoox, will both continue to lead the Zoox team according to a statement announcing the acquisition.

"This acquisition solidifies Zoox's impact on the autonomous driving industry. 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," said Evans.

Zoox fully autonomous driving.

Developing self-driving taxis for the future

Zoox was founded in 2014 with the aim of developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology that will help power and build a new ecosystem for self-driving taxis. The vision behind Zoox is that in the near future people will be able to request a ride, just like we do now when requesting a ride on services like Uber, on their phones and a self-driving car will arrive to transport them.

"Zoox is working to imagine, invent, and design a world-class autonomous ride-hailing experience. 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," said Jeff Wilke, Amazon’s CEO, Worldwide Consumer.

Zoox has said that its autonomous vehicle development focuses on "the ride-hailing customer, with tightly integrated features designed to provide a revolutionary passenger experience." To date, before the acquisition announcement by Amazon, Zoox had raised $955 million in venture capital funding.

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Autonomous ride-hailing competition

Zoox is not alone in the autonomous ride-hailing market. Previously it was reported that Uber is working on developing its own self-driving cars. This was further emphasized when Toyota announced that it was investing $500 million into Uber and would in turn manufacture its Sienna brand of minivans they, in turn, will be fitted with Uber’s self-driving technology.

Other companies developing self-driving cars to be used for ride-hailing include the likes of Alphabet and General Motors. Given Amazon's infrastructure and other services, the Zoox acquisition could position it as one of the leaders in the industry especially considering how such vehicles and the technology could also be used for logistics and deliveries for other Amazon businesses.

"Since Zoox's inception six years ago, we have been singularly focused on our ground-up approach to autonomous mobility. Amazon's support will markedly accelerate our path to delivering safe, clean, and enjoyable transportation to the world," said Jesse Levinson, Zoox co-founder and CTO.

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