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Secretive startup takes on big players with autonomous cab

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Angelo Rychel
Angelo Rychel
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Fast-rising company Zoox is granted permission to test driverless cars on Californian roads.

A company that most people have probably never heard of is aiming to shake up the driverless car scene. Silicon Valley startup Zoox, founded in 2013, has received a permit from Californian authorities to test self-driving cars on public roads. According to Bloomberg, Zoox will be the twelfth company to receive this authorization.

Thus, the young company will join an elite circle. Heavy-hitters like Google, Mercedes Benz or Tesla are running trials on Californian roads. The relatively unknown startup has so far kept a low profile – it does not even have a company website. Zoox is the brainchild of Australian designer Tim Kently-Klay and Jesse Levinson, Bloomberg reports. Levinson is an engineer who worked at Stanford University with Sebastian Thrun, co-creator of Google’s self-driving car.

Their ambitious plan is to develop fully autonomous cars to be on the road by 2020 – and then offer a ride-hailing service comparable to Uber or Lyft. Building the vehicles themselves would set Zoox apart from those competitors. Uber reportedly has ordered 100,000 Mercedes S-Classes recently while Lyft is teaming up with General Motors.

Initially, the permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles covers just one car and seven drivers. There are, however, indications that Zoox will likely shift into a higher gear soon. The startup has apparently headhunted several senior industry experts from companies like Apple or Tesla: so Bloomberg reports with reference to their LinkedIn profiles. 

Read the full Bloomberg article here.

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