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What happens in Vegas: Happens sustainably with autonomous transport


The transportation sector contributes heavily to emissions of air toxins, which causes severe health and environmental risks. 

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), freight transportation is the largest contributor to air pollution and climate change. 

Many companies are taking huge risks to turn back the clock in time and rethink the way vehicles cause traffic and emissions on public roads. One such company, Zoox, is in the process of relaunching an e-hailing shuttle, which is environmentally friendly, fast, and efficient. 

The Zoox autonomous ride-hailing service was founded to make transportation safer and cleaner in the US. It’s designed to function in a dense urban environment, but instead of worrying about charging, maintenance, and upgrades of your personal vehicle, the rider will simply pay for the service.

Zoox focuses on sustainability

Zoox is owned by Amazon, echoing its ambitions to reach net-zero carbon emissions by investing in renewable energy. 

The first-of-its-kind robotaxi is built to give a rider an experience. It has a skylight view from inside the taxi, with maximum luxury and efficiency. 

Here’s the cherry on the cake: There is no steering wheel or traditional driving controls. There is space for four adults to share a ride, which also helps with the limited parking space in urban areas. 

The first ride will soon be taken in Las Vegas. It’s easy to get around the buzzing city. Tight curbside pick-ups are no problem, and neither is navigating busy city streets. The vehicle’s doors can open on either side to allow riders to enter safely.

Top features in the Zoox robotaxi

This modern, sleek, autonomous taxi has a few features that suit the modern guy’s lifestyle. 

  • It has a wireless charging pad that allows two phones to charge simultaneously.
  • It also has charging ports for laptops and tablets, ideal for a daily commute. 
  • You can also pick from the Zoox playlist which music you want to listen to in the robotaxi. 
  • There are adjustable climate controls for each seat.
  • There’s a screen to check your arrival time as well as location and the route.

AI plays a big role in transportation success

Artificial intelligence (AI) helps autonomous vehicles to alert sensors when it’s raining. “Our Lidar system, for example, may pick up reflections from droplets and puddles. So we had to make sure our vehicle’s Perception system was robust to such lidar distractors.”

Using data from its other fleet in Seattle helps “cross-correlating it with our rain data” from Las Vegas and Foster City. 

To operate at night, Zoox robotaxi’s Perception system has to switch between daylight and night. “While radar and lidar function effectively in low-light conditions, it’s not as easy for cameras.”

For night driving, the vehicle has to be able to detect unclear shapes in darkness. “This requires training and refining our machine-learning models based on data from both our test fleet and our robotaxis.”

Operating at a high speed brings unique challenges and safety concerns. One requires the vehicle to change lanes and maneuver through complex scenarios. 

While Zoox is gearing up to release robotaxi in Las Vegas, it remains a big milestone for the autonomous robotaxi industry. 

NOW READ: Amazon uses AI to ensure uninterrupted solar power, rain or shine

Photo credit: Zoox Inc.

About the author

Mia is a multi-award-winning journalist. She has more than 14 years of experience in mainstream media. She's covered many historic moments that happened in Africa and internationally. She has a strong focus on human interest stories, to bring her readers and viewers closer to the topics at hand.

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