Zoox, an autonomous mobility-as-a-service company, has begun to deploy its driverless robotaxi on open public roads with live passengers. The Amazon subsidiary announced that it had commenced the first trial run of its employee shuttle service in Foster City, California during early February.

The beginning of Zoox’s autonomous trial follows a series of initial tests conducted on private roads, and the company receiving approval from the California DMV to operate its autonomous service on public roads. The robotaxi itself is self-certified to the American Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and has directly incorporated many of its performance requirements into its design.

Following the completion of its first trial run, Zoox will open its shuttle service at its Foster City headquarters for use by its full-time employees. The service will see the robotaxi autonomously transport up to four passengers on a public route between two Zoox office buildings at up to 35 mph (56 km/h). Over the course of this route, the AV will handle left- and right-hand turns, bi-directional turns, and traffic lights while encountering cyclists, pedestrians, vehicles, and other road users along the way.

In supporting both the user experience and user safety, the vehicle is equipped with a variety of technologies and features. Inside, a wireless charging tray is offered for small mobile devices alongside a screen built into each seat that allows passengers to play music and check their ETA, location, and route status. Designed to operate for long stretches of time, the vehicle’s battery enables up to 16 hours of use on a single charge. Throughout this time, its sensor architecture allows it to perceive objects at up to 150 meters away in all directions.

In compliance with the California DMV permit, Zoox will first provide its service to its employees free of charge. As the company continues to advance its progress and secure new government clearances, it will look to expand its reach to the general public.