Zoox Self-Driving Robotaxis Are Finally On Public Roads, But You Can't Use Them Quite Yet

True autonomous vehicle technology on a large scale is still a few years away. However, earlier this year Mercedes-Benz made immense strides in the technology when it received legal approval in the United States with its Level 3 autonomous driving system by the name of Drive Pilot. That system allows equipped Mercedes models to navigate through traffic on specific pre-determined sections of highway at speeds up to 40 miles per hour. Any faster than that, the driver will have to control. That technology will show up on a select few Mercedes cars toward the end of the year.

In 2023, Mercedes Drive Pilot is just about the most advanced "self-driving" car a consumer can expect to come across when shopping for a car. Zoox, a company that researches and designs autonomous vehicles, just revealed that it has made history with recent developments in its robotaxi program ... but you might have to wait a while before taking a ride. 

The future is (almost) here

A press release by Zoox announced that it has built the first-ever full autonomous robotaxi with no manual controls capable of driving on public roads. Zoox also notes that it has just received a permit from the State of California's Department of Motor Vehicles to operate the taxi on public roads. But there is a catch. As of now, the robotaxi service is only available to full-time Zoox employees. The only route so far is only the road between the company's two offices in Foster City, California. But as with any technology, it has to start somewhere. 

The taxi itself sports a 133 kWh battery and four-wheel steering as well as seating for up to four people on the inside. Zoox's taxi can reach speeds of up to 75 miles per hour, although it's unlikely to reach that speed puttering around Silicon Valley office complexes. Zoox says the autonomous services will start this spring and the vehicle will only operate during business hours. The company has not announced when the technology will expand to more locations.