Zoox begins rides in Vegas as first purpose-built robotaxi in Nevada

Less than five months after beginning completely driverless (and pedal-less) rides on public roads in California, Zoox has expanded operations to Nevada, beginning where else but fabulous Las Vegas. Nevada is quickly becoming a hub for robotaxis, but Zoox is captured a “first” in the Silver State thanks to its unique design.

Zoox is an autonomous vehicle developer celebrating closing in on nearly 10 years since its inception. In that time, former Intel chief strategist Aicha Evans has taken over as CEO, and the startup has secured a definitive merger with Amazon in which the online marketplace juggernaut wholly acquired it for an impressive $1.2 billion.

Contrary to nearly every other robotaxi company expanding on public roads, Zoox has developed a bespoke EV designed for the specific segment, free of a steering wheel and pedals.

Since we got our first look at the all-electric, autonomous shuttles in 2020, Zoox states its testing fleet has tallied over one million autonomous miles through San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Seattle.

Last summer, Zoox became the first company to self-certify a purpose-built, fully-autonomous passenger EV with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS), paving the way for first rides on public roads in California this past February.

Now, Zoox has expanded next door to Nevada, collecting data on public roads in Las Vegas as it continues to work toward full commercialization.

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  • Zoox vegas

Zoox expands from California to Nevada, beginning in Las Vegas

According to a post from Zoox today, its driverless robotaxi has been operating on public roads around Las Vegas since June 16. The initial testing, which was approved by the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles, consists of a one-mile loop around the neighborhood near Zoox’s Las Vegas headquarters it has occupied since 2020.

We have covered plenty of other robotaxi services setting up shop in Nevada, some even in Las Vegas, but Zoox now operates the first purpose-built robotaxi vehicle to drive on public roads in the state.

The bespoke electric robotaxis can transport up to four passengers at a time at speeds up to 35 mph, at least to start. Still, the driverless EVs can currently achieve speeds up to 75 mph. Like its initial public rollout in California, rides will first be tested by Zoox employees before the company intends to “expand over the coming months.”

Zoox says the autonomous robotaxis now navigating the streets of Vegas will encounter several unprotected left turns and multiway stops in addition to common public road obstacles, like cyclists, pedestrians, and other vehicles. Zoox cofounder and CTO Jesse Levinson spoke to the company’s progress:

Deploying our robotaxi on open public roads in California and now Nevada is a big step for Zoox. Driving autonomously in these two unique but equally challenging locations will provide us with invaluable learnings as we fine-tune our technology in preparation for commercial launch.

Zoox says it has already gathered plenty of data from its public road operations in California and will do the same in Las Vegas as it looks to bring driverless rides to the public in Nevada next. No timeline on when that might be, but Zoox’s expansion progress is encouraging.

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