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Amazon buys self-driving start-up Zoox, but not for automated delivery

Amazon has announced it has purchased the self-driving ride-hailing start-up Zoox for a reported $1.2 billion dollars.

However, if your thoughts immediately turned to autonomous Amazon Prime vehicles dominating the highways, that’s apparently not where the firm’s head is at.

This isn’t an acquihire to obtain the technology, Amazon has said it is intent on bringing the company’s mission to fruition. The company says Zoox is pioneering the future of ride-hailing “by designing autonomous technology from the ground up with passengers front-of-mind” and wants them to get on with it.

Amazon says the current executive team will continue to lead the way and the firm, which has been in operation since 2014, will be a standalone business. Whether Amazon will look to interfere in that business remains to be seen.

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“Zoox is working to imagine, invent, and design a world-class autonomous ride-hailing experience,” said Jeff Wilke, Amazon’s CEO, Worldwide Consumer in a blog post. “Like Amazon, Zoox is passionate about innovation and about its customers, and we’re excited to help the talented Zoox team to bring their vision to reality in the years ahead.”

The acquisition makes Amazon a direct competitor with Google’s Waymo and Uber in the self-driving car arena, which is becoming incredibly competitive as countries prepare for the autonomous future.  It also puts the company up against Elon Musk’s Tesla, who already competes with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in the private space realm. Musk had a typically Musk reaction in the tweet below.

“This acquisition solidifies Zoox’s impact on the autonomous driving industry,” said Aicha Evans, CEO of Zoox. “We have made great strides with our purpose-built approach to safe, autonomous mobility, and our exceptionally talented team working every day to realize that vision. We now have an even greater opportunity to realize a fully autonomous future.”

“Since Zoox’s inception six years ago, we have been singularly focused on our ground-up approach to autonomous mobility,” said Jesse Levinson, Zoox co-founder and CTO. “Amazon’s support will markedly accelerate our path to delivering safe, clean, and enjoyable transportation to the world.”

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