>> The role of our L3 testing fleet within the Zoox ecosystem

Our fleet of Level 3 (L3) autonomous vehicles has been driving autonomously on public roads since 2017—first in the San Francisco Bay area, then Las Vegas, and most recently Seattle. While our rototaxis are purpose-built from the ground up, the L3 fleet are retrofitted hybrid Toyota Highlanders.

Safety is foundational to L3 testing

We’re building Zoox because we want to make transportation safer. As you would expect, our L3 test fleet meets extremely high safety standards. A safety driver sits behind the wheel and can take over at any time, disengaging the AI if needed.

Our L3 vehicles are just for mapping and testing; we have no plans to offer the public rides in them or operate them without a safety driver. From 2014, the Zoox vision has been to develop and build a purpose-built robotaxi for AI to drive and humans to enjoy. And that is the service we are excited to bring to the public in the near future.

Why we use L3 vehicles

We use our retrofitted L3 autonomous fleets and ground-up robotaxi fleets in parallel. And unlike other companies, our L3 vehicle has a sensor architecture that closely matches our purpose-built vehicle. That means we can rely on our L3 testing vehicles to confidently test, validate, and improve our AI, and evolve the hardware and compute while we prepare our robotaxi for public roads.

The L3 fleet is also critical for mapping. Before autonomous testing begins, we drive our test vehicles manually around the city to collect data. This helps to build a detailed picture of each street—everything from the road geometry to traffic lights. And it enables us to chart new areas and subsequently expand our geofence.

The data collected by our L3 fleet also enables us to rapidly advance our autonomous driving capabilities. If the safety driver ever has to take over, this event is logged immediately. The data goes back to our software teams, who analyze it to understand what would have happened if the safety driver hadn’t taken over. The result helps us improve the vehicle’s response in the future.

Now testing in San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Seattle

Our L3 test fleet drives autonomously near our HQ in Foster City, as well as in San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Seattle. We’re deliberately testing our L3 fleet in dense cities and on the most challenging routes.

The reason is simple: the more we test in complicated urban environments, the more we learn, and the faster we can refine our autonomous driving capabilities.

See you on the road

If you’re out and about in one of our current testing locations, you may spy our L3 autonomous vehicles on the road. Feel free to wave hello or take a picture if it’s safe for you to do so. Because every L3 mission is a step closer to the future of transportation.