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US Authorities Probe Amazon’s Zoox Over Two Rear-End Crashes Involving Self-Driving Cars

US investigates Amazon's Zoox after two rear-end crashes involving self-driving robotaxis

Amazon’s self-driving robotaxi unit, Zoox, is under investigation by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) following two incidents where its vehicles abruptly braked, resulting in rear-end collisions with motorcyclists.

According to documents posted on the NHTSA’s website on Monday, both crashes involved Toyota Highlander SUVs equipped with Zoox’s autonomous driving technology. The accidents occurred during daylight hours, and while the motorcyclists suffered minor injuries, the vehicles were operating in autonomous mode at the time of the crashes.

The NHTSA stated that its investigation will focus on evaluating Zoox’s automated driving system’s performance during the incidents, as well as its behavior around crosswalks and pedestrians.

Zoox under US scrutiny following two crashes involving self-driving robotaxis

In response, Zoox affirmed its commitment to cooperating with the NHTSA and addressing its inquiries. The company emphasized the importance of transparency and collaboration with regulators and clarified that the vehicles involved had human safety drivers on board.

Zoox had previously reported the crashes under an order issued to automated vehicle companies in 2021. Amazon acquired Zoox in June 2020, and analysts speculate that the e-commerce giant may utilize Zoox’s technology for autonomous deliveries in the future.

The Foster City, California-based company’s autonomous shuttles, which lack steering wheels or pedals, have been in operation for its employees, running on public roads at speeds of up to 35 mph. Zoox’s shuttles feature a unique carriage-style interior with two-facing benches and measure just under 12 feet long.

This investigation adds to previous scrutiny Zoox faced from the NHTSA, which began in March 2022, examining the company’s certification that its vehicles complied with federal safety standards. The agency aimed to determine whether Zoox’s testing procedures appropriately addressed federal standards given the unique configuration of its robotaxi vehicles.

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