A Zoox self-driving vehicle last month. Photo by Bloomberg
The Briefing

Amazon’s Self-Driving Car Bet: The Information’s Tech Briefing

Photo: A Zoox self-driving vehicle last month. Photo by Bloomberg

Amazon’s decision to spend more than $1 billion buying self-driving car developer Zoox—a story we broke last night—made me wonder: Is Amazon really committing to spend the billions more that are necessary to develop fully automated taxis, as its announcement implied? Amazon’s pockets are deep, but perhaps not that deep.

Still, Amazon can surely see what we see: The robotaxi field is wide open. Alphabet’s Waymo, which years ago appeared unassailable in the field, is no longer so. Commercializing a fleet is proving no easier for GM’s Cruise. Uber’s own effort has been struggling, and Apple and Toyota are taking their time. New or different forms of machine learning may be required to develop a reliable robotaxi. And a key developer of self-driving cars has shifted his focus to trucks.

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