Amazon.com (AMZN) - Get Report reportedly is in discussions to acquire driverless-vehicle startup Zoox in a bid to both accelerate its automation efforts in the so-dubbed “last mile” of package delivery and also cut one of its persistently higher costs: the delivery person.
According to reports, Amazon is in late-stage discussions with Zoox, an autonomous-vehicle startup that has been working on perfecting driverless vehicle automation since 2018.
“Zoox has been receiving interest in a strategic transaction from multiple parties and has been working with Qatalyst Partners to evaluate such interest,” the company told Bloomberg, without specifically mentioning Amazon or others.
Amazon reportedly is in advanced talks to buy Zoox for less than the company’s 2018 $3.2 billion valuation, according to reports.
With automation a huge part of its fulfillment centers, where robots, conveyor belts and tracking systems allow everything from pool floaties to shoe polish to be plucked and shipped quickly and efficiently, Amazon and other e-tailers have long struggled with getting their products from warehouses to front doors.
Foster City, Calif.-based Zoox, which claims to be working on “driving autonomously in ways that no one else has shown,” is proving to be an attractive target to Amazon and other companies looking to cut both the time and cost it takes to move good the last mile - a term used to describe the final delivery stretch.
Paying drivers to deliver packages remains one of Amazon’s bigger costs. CEO Jeff Bezos has for years been looking to cut those costs - by creating Amazon’s own delivery fleet, by looking into drone and even robot delivery, and now by potentially acquiring driverless car companies like Zoox.
Meantime, Zoox is not the only autonomous-driving vehicle company on the proverbial road. Waymo and General Motors' (GM) - Get Report Cruise as well as Aurora Innovation founded by former alums of Google (GOOGL) - Get Report, Uber (UBER) - Get Report and Tesla (TSLA) - Get Report, have also been making inroads in creating driverless package and people movers.
Shares of Amazon were up 0.59% at $2,407.65 in trading on Wednesday.