Zoox tests unmanned AVs in California

Amazon-owned firm gets nod from state's DMV - as long as vehicles stay under 45mph
Networking & Communication Systems / September 24, 2020
By Ben Spencer
On the road again: Zoox can drive unmanned AVs up to 45 mph (© David Tonelson | Dreamstime.com)
On the road again: Zoox can drive unmanned AVs up to 45 mph (© David Tonelson | Dreamstime.com)

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is allowing Amazon company Zoox to test two autonomous vehicles (AV) without a safety driver within San Mateo County. 

The DMV says the permit allows Zoox to operate AVs in light rain and foggy conditions up to 45 mph near its headquarters in Foster City. 

Zoox joins Waymo, Nuro and AutoX Technologies as the latest company to receive a driverless testing permit in the US state. Currently, 60 companies are allowed to test AVs with a safety driver.

Waymo received the green light to operate AVs in California up to 65 mph in November 2018.

Manufacturers seeking a permit must provide evidence of insurance or a bond equal to $5 million. 

They must also confirm the vehicles can operate without a safety driver and have been tested under controlled conditions that simulate the planned area of operation. 

Additionally, permit holders must report any collisions involving AVs to the DMV within 10 days. 

The DMV authorised the testing of AVs without a safety driver in 2018. Last year, regulations allowing light-duty autonomous delivery vehicles weighing less than 10,001 pounds were approved.

In June, Amazon confirmed plans to acquire Zoox to help the start-up develop an autonomous ride-hailing service. 

Zoox says on its website its vehicles are driving autonomously in cities and on highways while also “yielding to pedestrians and passing double parked vehicles”. 

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