Zoox wants to reimagine how you move around a city with autonomous ride-hailing. The Amazon-owned company has developed a first-of-its-kind robotaxi that’s purpose-built for rider experiences, with no steering wheel or traditional driving controls. The vehicle can carry up to four riders who can share the vehicle to help reduce the number of cars on the road and solve the age-old question of where to find parking in urban areas.
The first Zoox robotaxis will soon be available for public riders in Las Vegas, Nevada. They’re currently operating for employees in Las Vegas, as well as near the Zoox headquarters in Foster City, California. We were lucky enough to catch a ride during a visit to their headquarters. Here’s what the experience is like.
The doors of the vehicle can open on either side to allow riders to safely enter.
An image showing the Zoox robotaxi opening it's doors on both sides of the vehicle to welcome passengers. There is a passenger entering the vehicle while holding her cellphone and a canned drink. The robotaxi is teal and black and the doors are on a sliding function.
Once you’re inside, there are seat belts to buckle up, as well as cupholders to store your drinks.
An image of two people's feet sitting in a Zoox robotaxi. There is a center console between them where they each have a drink in a can that is sitting in a cupholder.
In the middle console, there’s a wireless charging pad big enough for two phones to charge at once, as well as additional charging ports for your other devices, such as laptops and tablets—perfect for your daily commute.
An image of a center console in the Zoox robotaxi which shows two phones sitting side by side.
The screen on the inside prompts you to close the door and start your ride. Once you give it the go-ahead, you’re off to your next location. I did the honors to kick off our ride.
An image of a hand swiping a screen inside the Zoox robotaxi. The screen says "Welcome" and invites the rider to swipe to start the ride.
Riding in a vehicle with no driver and no steering wheel was a unique experience. At first, I was very aware that it was driving on its own, but I quickly forgot there wasn’t a human driver as the robotaxi drove along at a comfortable speed and perfectly obeyed all traffic laws. My fellow riders and I certainly seemed more comfortable than passengers in the car when I drive.
A woman is riding in a Zoox robotaxi, looking out the window and using her phone to photograph what's outside.
As you go along your journey, you can use the screen to check your arrival time as well as your location and the route you’re taking to your destination. It was nice to have that on the screen so I didn’t have to check my phone to track our estimated arrival time.
An image of a screen inside the Zoox robotaxi that says "1 min 2:06 arrival"
You can also set the music—a great perk for a lovely work commute, or to get the group singing along on a trip to your destination in Las Vegas. We opted for the soothing electronic sounds of the Zoox playlist.
An image of a small screen inside the Zoox robotaxi. The screen shows an image of an album cover and the song title that says "The First Ride" with buttons to skip to the next song, pause, and turn up the volume.
The adjustable climate controls at each seat are also handy to keep your space comfortable. You can use the screen to adjust the air in your section, and the other riders can do the same.
An image of a small screen inside the Zoox robotaxi. You can see an image of a person sitting in a chair with controls to adjust the heat and cooling in specific areas around them in the car.
The sensors on the outside of the vehicle enable the AI driving system to expertly navigate the roads, and exterior lighting like turn signals and brake lights communicate with other drivers to make sure they know what the robotaxi will do next.
An image of cameras atop the roof of a Zoox robotaxi.
Safety is foundational at Zoox. The vehicle has a custom horseshoe-shaped airbag system that pops out on either side of the rider as well as in the middle of the vehicle in the event of an emergency.
An image showing how the Zoox airbag design works. There are airbags wrapping around the seats as well as airbags in front of each seat.
Our ride went by fast. Once we arrived at our destination, the vehicle parked in its designated spot and prompted us to use the screen to open the doors.
an image of a small screen inside a Zoox robotaxi. The screen says "We've arrived" and prompts the rider to swipe to open the doors.
Once we exited, the robotaxi geared up to take its next passengers on board for a trip.