US Probes Amazon’s Zoox Following Two Rear-End Crashes

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Amazon Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) autonomous vehicle subsidiary, Zoox, is under scrutiny from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) following two incidents where its self-driving cars caused accidents with motorcyclists. These incidents, both involving Toyota Highlander SUVs equipped with Zoox’s autonomous driving technology, occurred during daylight and resulted in minor injuries to the motorcyclists. Each incident saw the autonomous vehicles operating without manual control at the time of the crashes.

The NHTSA’s investigation will assess the performance of Zoox’s automated driving systems, focusing particularly on their response during the crashes and their interaction with pedestrians and other vulnerable road users in crosswalks. Zoox has expressed its commitment to full transparency and cooperation with the regulatory body.

These accidents were reported by Zoox as part of compliance with a 2021 mandate for automated vehicle companies to report such incidents. Amazon acquired Zoox in June 2020 for over $1 billion. Recently, Zoox launched a shuttle service for Amazon employees, using a unique, steering wheel-free vehicle design capable of reaching speeds up to 75 mph, although currently restricted to 35 mph on public roads.

The ongoing NHTSA investigation also includes a probe started in March 2022 into Zoox’s compliance with federal safety standards, questioning the company’s own testing methods and their applicability to the robotaxi’s novel design.

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