Jun 29, 2020

Zoox - The Future Of Autonomous Mobility

AI
Kayleigh Shooter
3 min
Cars on road
An inside look at how Zoox is transforming Autonomous Driving using purpose-built vehicles driven by AI...

Who is Zoox?:

Zoox is an American autonomous vehicle company currently headquartered in Foster City, California with multiple offices of operations throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Zoox was founded in 2014 by Australian artist-designer Tim Kentley-Klay, and Jesse Levinson, son of Apple Inc. chairman Arthur D. Levinson, who was developing self-driving technology at Stanford University. 

It is more than simply just a car with a computer, it's about automotive, robotics and sustainability too - therefore solving the unique challenges of autonomous mobility. 

Zoox is driving autonomously in ways that no one else has shown. they are driving in cities and on highways. Making unprotected lefts and rights on red. Yielding to pedestrians and passing double-parked vehicles. The next generation of mobility is for riders - not drivers. Zoox is designing new ways to make the time navigating between places more useful, more social and more fun.

The company allows you to build your own custom car.

Why build your own?

Zoox has a competitive edge over many other autonomous startups as they allow you to build your own custom car to suit your personal needs. This is because nowadays cars are designed for the driver, everything is based solely around the driver, the passengers do not get a second thought, Zoox has changed this. You can design the vehicle to make the best and most economical use of sensors, making sure they get the necessary view of the surroundings. In addition, those who wish to socialize, seating can be face to face (though this takes more space) or it can also be easier to design private compartments for strangers who will ride together. Whilst crumple zones and other passive safety remain necessary you get more options on how to install this. However these features come with a higher cost and bet on you having some knowledge of cars and manufacturing.

Amazon’s acquisition of Zoox:

It has recently been announced that Amazon.com has purchased the self-driving startup Zoox for “more than $1.2B” 

“Zoox is working to imagine, invent, and design a world-class autonomous ride-hailing experience,” said Jeff Wilke, who runs Amazon’s consumer business.

“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.”

We understand that the industry has faced many challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic. So this acquisition will come as a relief and an exciting venture. The deal is Amazon’s second-biggest acquisition since the 2009 purchase of online shoe retailer Zappos for $1.2bn. Amazon’s biggest deal was the 2017 acquisition of Whole Foods, the upmarket grocer, for $13.7bn, according to Dealogic.

"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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May 7, 2021

AI Shows its Value; Governments Must Unleash its Potential

AI
Technology
digitisation
Digital
His Excellency Omar bin Sultan...
4 min
His Excellency Omar bin Sultan Al Olama talks us through artificial intelligence's progress and potential for practical deployment in the workplace.
His Excellency Omar bin Sultan Al Olama talks us through artificial intelligence's progress and potential for practical deployment in the workplace...

2020 has revealed just how far AI technology has come as it achieves fresh milestones in the fight against Covid-19. Google’s DeepMind helped predict the protein structure of the virus; AI-drive infectious disease tracker BlueDot spotted the novel coronavirus nine days before the World Health Organisation (WHO) first sounded the alarm. Just a decade ago, these feats were unfathomable. 

Yet, we have only just scratched the surface of AI’s full potential. And it can’t be left to develop on its own. Governments must do more to put structures in place to advance the responsible growth of AI. They have a dual responsibility: fostering environments that enable innovation while ensuring the wider ethical and social implications are considered.

It is this balance that we are trying to achieve in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to ensure government accelerates, rather than hinders, the development of AI. Just as every economy is transitioning at the moment, we see innovation as being vital to realising our vision for a post-oil economy. Our work in his space has highlighted three barriers in the government approach when it comes to realising AI’s potential. 

First, addressing the issue of ignorance 

While much time is dedicated to talking about the importance of AI, there simply isn’t enough understanding of where it’s useful and where it isn’t. There are a lot of challenges to rolling out AI technologies, both practically and ethically. However, those enacting the policies too often don’t fully understand the technology and its implications. 

The Emirates is not exempt from this ignorance, but it is an issue we have been trying to address. Over the last few years, we have been running an AI diploma in partnership with Oxford University, teaching government officials the ethical implications of AI deployment. Our ambition is for every government ministry to have a diploma graduate, as it is essential to ensure policy decision-making is informed. 

Second, moving away from the theoretical

While this grounding in the moral implications of AI is critical, it is important to go beyond the theoretical. It is vital that experimentation in AI is allowed to happen for its own sake and not let ethical problems stymie innovations that don’t yet exist. Indeed, many of these concerns – while well-founded – are born out in the practical deployment of these end-use cases and can’t be meaningfully discussed on paper.

If you take facial recognition as an example, looking at this issue in abstract quickly leads to discussions over privacy concerns with potential surveillance and intrusion by private companies or authorities’ regimes. 

But what about the more specific issue of computer vision? Although part of the same field, the same moral quandaries do not arise, and the technology is already bearing fruit. In 2018, we developed an algorithmic solution that can be used in the detection and diagnosis of tuberculosis from chest X-rays. You can upload any image of a chest X-ray, and the system will identify if a person has the disease. Laws and regulations must be tailored to unique use-cases of AI, rather than lumping disparate fields together.

To create this culture that encourages experimentation, we launched the RegLab. It provides a safe and flexible legislation ecosystem to supports the utilisation of future technologies. This means we can actually see AI in practice before determining appropriate regulation, not the other way around. Regulation is vital to cap any unintended negative consequences of AI, but it should never be at the expense of innovation. 

Finally, understanding the knock-on effects of AI

There needs to be a deeper, more nuanced understanding of AI’s wider impact. It is too easy to think the economic benefits and efficiency gains of AI must also come with negative social implications, particularly concern over job loss. 

But with the right long-term government planning, it’s possible to have one without the other; to maximise the benefits and mitigate potential downsides. If people are appropriately trained in how to use or understand AI, the result is a future workforce capable of working alongside these technologies for the better – just as computers complement most people’s work today.

We’ve to start this training as soon as possible in the Emirates. Through our Ministry of Education, we have rolled out an education programme to start teaching children about AI as young as five years old. This includes coding skills and ethics, and we are carrying this right through to higher education with the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence set to welcome its first cohort in January. We hope to create future generations of talent that can work in harmony with AI for the betterment of society, not the detriment.

AI will inevitably become more pervasive in society, digitisation will continue in the wake of the pandemic, and in time we will see AI’s prominence grow. But governments have a responsibility to society to ensure that this growth is matched with the appropriate understanding of AI’s impacts. We must separate the hype from the practical solutions, and we must rigorously interrogate AI deployment and ensure that it used to enhance our existence. If governments can overcome these challenges and create the environments for AI to flourish, then we have a very exciting future ahead of us.

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