Amazon Shutters Ambitious 'Moonshot' Projects

The decision “shocked and disappointed members of the secretive lab.”

Business Insider has reported that a cost-cutting measure by Amazon has led to the shutdown of three confidential projects being pursued by the company’s Grand Challenge division.

They cite confidential sources who detailed the projects that had been culled, revealing that the decision “shocked and disappointed members of the secretive moonshots lab.”

The shuttered projects included one reportedly dubbed Project Oasis, which focused on a new device for atmospheric-water generation designed to capture humidity from air to produce drinking water.

Another initiative that was chopped is described as “an innovative jet-fuel technology.” Code-named Infinite Loop, the project was reportedly centered on building technology that could convert carbon dioxide into jet fuel – ideally cutting costs for Amazon’s cargo planes and reducing emissions.

The final project to be killed was an augmented-reality headset for business meetings. And while analysts industry-wide have questioned the near term interest from the enterprise market for this type of technology, it might have been something else that caused Amazon to hit the brakes: According to Insider, “several employees beta tested the device internally but experienced severe nausea.”

In September, Babak Parviz, VP of Amazon's Grand Challenge moonshot lab, abruptly stepped down – causing some to speculate that Amazon was considering killing the lab altogether. Outside of a need to cut costs, the handful of projects that have come out of the lab – including Amazon Explore, a platform that connects users with “virtual experiences” worldwide – have failed to generate much success in the market.

Regardless, a lab shutdown doesn’t appear to be the case just yet, as Insider’s sources reported that two projects would remain online. One is an at-home fertility-monitoring device that is reportedly near launch and the other is described as “a therapeutic treatment to protect against antibiotic resistance.” The report suggests these two projects fall in line with business priorities for Amazon CEO Andy Jassey in the healthcare industry.

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