Zoox Can Cruise San Francisco Without Drivers

The self-driving startup steered by a new CEO may partner with an automaker

San Francisco’s Lombard Street is famous for its eight hairpin turns. Tourists in rental cars slowly snake their way past the street’s beautiful homes, then review the experience on travel websites. Zoox Inc., the self-driving startup, uses the crooked road to measure the incremental improvement of its autonomous software.

“A year ago, we couldn’t do Lombard Street or other very narrow or steep roads,” says Zoox’s Jesse Levinson, the company’s co-founder and chief technical officer. “Now we can.” He’s sitting in the back passenger seat of a black Toyota Highlander controlled by Zoox software as the car cruises through what Levinson calls the Challenge Course. Two safety drivers sit up front.

Operating solely on its artificial intelligence, the vehicle creeps through each tight bend. When a group of pedestrians decides to stand six abreast for selfies, the car comes to a smooth stop. After a moment, the SUV navigates to the right of the tourists, then slips left to avoid a garbage can blown into the road.

21. März 2019

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