Zoox to Add Autonomous Testing in Las Vegas

California-based autonomous-car startup Zoox Inc., which already is testing self-driving electric cars in San Francisco, plans to expand to Las Vegas.

The company currently is mapping streets and planning routes in Las Vegas, co-founder and Chief Technical Officer Jesse Levinson tells attendees at a conference in San Francisco. He says the company will begin testing and validating its vehicles in the city in coming months with the goal of eventually launching a robo-taxi service there.

Earlier this year Zoox received permission from the Nevada Dept. of Motor Vehicles to use public roads to test self-driving vehicles with backup drivers on board. Las Vegas’ congested streets, reversible traffic right-of-ways, large number of pedestrians and complex pick-up and drop-off zones present unique challenges, Zoox notes.

Several other companies already are testing self-driving cars in Las Vegas. A joint program between Aptiv plc and Lyft Inc. reportedly has conducted more than 50,000 self-driving rides in the city.

Zoox has raised about $800 million in funding since it was founded in 2014. The company is developing its own autonomous-driving software, electric vehicle program and urban ride-hailing system. In February Zoox hired former Intel Corp. executive Aicha Evans as its CEO. She succeeded co-founder Tim Kentley-Klay, who was ousted last year.