Zoox: Top-secret Autonomous Car Developer Prepares for Real-World Tests

Mar 29, 2017 04:30 AM EDT | Yen Palec

Reports recently surfaced claiming that the secretive tech startup firm Zoox is working to conduct its first real-world test soon. The last time Zoox was reported on mainstream news portals was when the company completed a $200 million funding which raised its value to $1 billion, in 2016.

Zoox is developing Level 5 autonomous cars, which means they are completely driverless. In a patent filed in 2015, it appears that Zoox is working on a four-seat car design. All the seats are for the passengers, since no driver is required.

Unlike most startups working on autonomous cars, Zoox does not have the backing of a huge company like Google or Apple. Nevertheless, the company has a healthy cash reserved, thanks to its successful funding run in the past. Should the company reach its current goal of building a fleet of robo-taxis, they will be the first company to do so without tapping the help of third-party partners, according to ReCode.

People close to the company have indicated that Zoox is already gearing up for its real-world tests. However, there are some speculations claiming that the company is still in the prototyping phase. Nevertheless, despite the lack of media attention coming from mainstream platforms and other social networking sites, it appears that Zoox is well within its established timeframe.

In a statement acquired by IEEE Spectrum, a Zoox tester said, "The vehicle was fairly early prototype. It didn't even have a shell and was open to the air. They are probably the best at fundraising but technology-wise it was not that impressive."

Zook was founded by Tim Kentley-Klay and Jesse Levinson. The startup is based in Palo Alto and has been working on autonomous vehicle technologies for quite some time despite its clandestine operation.

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