Amazon has bought self-driving car start-up Zoox for over $1.2 billion (£970 million), following weeks of speculation that a deal was on the table.
The major deal, first reported by The Information, marks the retailer’s latest and largest foray into the autonomous vehicle sector and represents its second largest investment since 2009.
It follows weeks of speculation about a possible tie up after the Wall Street Journal reported the pair were in “advanced talks” in May.
Sources close to the matter have suggested that Amazon could work with Zoox to create a new ride-hailing fleet, akin to Uber but without any drivers.
It has also been suggested that Zoox’s self-driving technology could be integrated into Amazon’s massive delivery fleet,
One of the people said Amazon would work with Zoox to create a ride-hailing fleet, pitting the ecommerce group against Waymo, the self-driving industry leader backed by Alphabet.
However, some analysts expect Amazon to focus on integrating autonomous technology into its delivery network.
In September last year Amazon announced that it had purchased 100,000 electric vehicles (EV) from producer Rivian in an effort “to build the most sustainable transportation fleet in the world”.
The fleet has been custom designed by Amazon with the help of Rivian, and each feature has been informed by Amazon’s delivery drivers and could serve as a useful testing platform for Zoox’s technology.
Zoox is expected to continue to operate as an independent company after the acquisition is finalised.