Zoox, a self-driving startup was acquired by Amazon for over US$1 billion in it’s attempt to boost it’s reach using robo-delivery cars and mini buses which is definitely going to be a good news for the company during the time of social distancing and so forth but then one of the Zoox’s longest serving senior engineers have left the company in order to work at Waymo, an Alphabet’s subsidiary company doing the same thing as Zoox.
It’s been a long dream for Amazon to be able to enter into the robotaxi business as well and Zoox seems to be the perfect candidate to realize that dream. While Amazon merely transact goods and services via it’s giant e-commerce store online and offline through a number of acquired companies and stores, the company doesn’t really seems to have any business in the Robotaxi industry and the reason for such acquisition isn’t yet very clear.
But what is surely clear which isn’t certain is the fact that the company might be using the new acquisition to work on it’s autonomous delivery robots or maybe use the company to create mini buses for delivery of goods to it’s customers around the country if that makes any sense.
Two of the longest serving senior engineers at Zoox – James Philbin and Marc Wimmershoff both left the company after the acquisition to join Waymo according to The Information. They were so fast at their move that the acquisition was officially announced last Friday and by Monday, they were already at Waymo.
Wimmershoff was the senior director of planning and control while his colleague Philbin was the senior director of perception and prediction and they’ve both worked at the company for about five years while Zoox itself is only being around for six years. Being the head, they both get reports from most of the company’s autonomous software developers
Why they made the move isn’t very clear and whether Amazon was aware of the move before or during the acquisition too isn’t yet made known by us but there have been some speculations that early employees were offered some financial kick-backs as part of the Amazon takeover, presumably the pair got a bit of a payout and with the uncertainty of Amazon‘s involvement decided it was time to move somewhere with a little more certainty.
While nothing yet is really clear about Amazon’s plan with Zoox itself, the company which already owned a robotics division which helps in its autonomous warehouse fulfillment bots as well as it’s previous year’s investment in electric vehicle startup, Rivian, Amazon could just be diving straight into the Robotaxi industry which is obviously fine for the company.
Meanwhile the industry’s newness might not be really profitable just yet for Amazon but on the worst side, the company might just merge Zoox up with it’s autonomous division to create a more powerful delivery robots.