Zoiks! The new Zoox self-driving taxicab from Amazon was spotted in SF this past weekend, more than a week before its scheduled public debut.
One of the funner aspects of spending too much time on Reddit is when someone spots and photographs some sort of baffling, inexplicable development taking place on the streets of San Francisco, and then the Redditors all put their heads together to figure out what the heck is actually happening. Such was the case with the Monday Reddit post Anyone know what they are filming by the fairmont? from user Lakailb87, which shows what appears to be high-tech life-size Brio choo-choo train and a film crew recording it’s movements.
The eagle-eyed Twitter user above points out that the license plate says “Zoox.” Zoox is a self-driving car startup whose technology was infamously dubbed by Jalponik as “vaporware horseshit” in 2013 (though the company took the joke well, and naming their prototypes VH1 and VH2 as a reference). And they may have successfully spun that horseshit into gold, as Jalopnik now reports that Zoox was shooting a commercial for the self-driving taxicab’s debut.
We’re reinventing personal transportation—making the future safer, cleaner, and more enjoyable. Revealing 12.14.2020 pic.twitter.com/a50T8Cm4NA— Zoox (@zoox) December 2, 2020
As we see in the teaser promo above (which is not the commercial they were shooting outside the Fairmont) Zoox will debut at some circle-jerk tech launch event scheduled for December 14. It’s a fair bet that the odd-looking vehicle is from Zoox, as the lights in the above promo bit do match the dimensions of the vessel that Gizmodo describes as “an iMac G3 on wheels” and “dorky as hell.”
Amazon acquired Zoox in June of this year, but they’re not planning to deliver packages with the boxy robocars. An Amazon executive said at the time their intention was to “design a world-class autonomous ride-hailing experience,” which means they’re going up against the autonomous aspirations of Uber, Lyft, and Google/Waymo.
And that field is getting even more crowded with today’s news that General Motors’ self-driving car line Cruise will be testing driverless cars in San Francisco, according to KPIX. Cruise does have state permission to test the driverless vehicles, they will start with only five of the vessels in action, and Cruise employees will be onboard at first. But pedestrians and SF drivers must have to wonder why billionaire tech bros are leaving San Francisco, but are still so determined to use our streets for their lab rat experiments and the backdrop for their little commercials.
Image: Lakailb87 via Reddit