Zoox autonomous vehicle testing expands to Seattle

Zoox is a company that has been building and testing autonomous L3 vehicles for the last four years. So far, all of the testing is being conducted in Las Vegas and San Francisco, giving them lots of information on how the hardware reacts in warmer and drier climates. Zoox is now gearing up to test its autonomous vehicles in other parts of the country, subjecting them to different environmental conditions.

The next area for testing the L3 autonomous vehicles is Seattle. Expanding its testing into the Seattle area will expose the hardware to unfamiliar roads and new conditions. Testing in a new city, the vehicle and its AI software will face new challenges along with varying types of weather and a different infrastructure. The software also learns to deal with different laws and different driving cultures.

Zoox says subjecting its hardware and software to different conditions helps iterate both hardware and software to broaden the capabilities of the autonomous vehicles. The expansion will also allow the company to build geofences and maps specific to Seattle. New data is critical to continue developing the AI stack, according to Jesse Levinson, CTO and co-founder of Zoox.

The company will also open an office in Seattle next year, helping expand its base of operations and facilities. Seattle will be the fourth testing site for Zoox autonomous vehicles after San Francisco, Las Vegas, and company HQ in Foster City, California.

At the beginning of the Seattle rollout, Zoox plans to deploy a "small number" of L3 vehicles. Exactly how many vehicles will be deployed in the Seattle area is unannounced. Those vehicles will explore the area and gather data on the complexity and demands operating within the city. The vehicles that will be deployed are all-wheel-drive Toyota Highlanders utilizing the latest software stack and have a safety driver behind the wheel.