Electronics and Semiconductors

Amazon’s Zoox investigated by NHTSA after accidents

15 May 2024
A Zoox robotaxi travels in the Las Vegas, Nevada area. Zoox is under investigation after two accidents involving its autonomous vehicles. Source: Zoox

The bad news for robotaxis continues as Amazon’s autonomous vehicles unit, Zoox, has come under investigation by the U.S. National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) for two separate accidents.

According to a report from the Associated Press, the NHTSA will evaluate Zoox’s automated driving system after two of its vehicles braked suddenly and were rear-ended by motorcycles.

The news comes after a string of incidents from General Motors’ Cruise Automation cause the company to shut down operations temporarily across the U.S. and is no longer able to operate autonomous vehicles in the state of California without a safety driver. Cruise has since resumed testing its robotaxis in Arizona.

While GM said it was committed to Cruise, it did cut its spending by $1 billion as a result of the troubles the robotaxi company has faced in testing.

Additionally, Motional, the joint venture between Hyundai Motor Group and Aptiv, said earlier this month it would de-emphasize robotaxi testing in favor of developing its core autonomous technology. This comes after Aptiv said it would scale back its support for Motional and sold much of its interest in the company including a buy-out from Hyundai for $448 million.

The accidents

The Zoox incidents involved Toyota Highlander SUVs equipped with autonomous driving technology. Each vehicle was operating in autonomous mode when the accidents happened.

In one crash, the motorcyclist had minor injuries and a Zoox driver had injuries in the other, according to the report from the NHTSA. One incident happened in San Francisco, California, and the other in Spring Valley, Nevada.

The NHTSA will focus on how the automated system behaves in crosswalks around pedestrians and other road users, the AP reported.

“Transparency and collaboration with regulators is of utmost importance,” Zoox said in a statement and would work with the NHTSA to answer questions.

Zoox joined Motional and Vay last year in testing in Las Vegas. The company first began testing on public roads around San Francisco in 2023.

To contact the author of this article, email PBrown@globalspec.com

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