Regulators open probe into Amazon self-driving unit Zoox after accidents

Credit: Zoox

U.S. regulators have opened an investigation into the Amazon self-driving subsidiary Zoox, following reports of two separate accidents with the company’s vehicles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened a preliminary investigation into the Zoox Automated Driving System (ADS), after the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) was notified of two incidents featuring Toyota Highlander units utilizing the software. In both instances, the Highlander unexpectedly and suddenly braked, causing rear-end collisions that left one motorcyclist with minor injuries, and one Zoox operator with lower back pain and tightness.

The motorcyclist in the first case appeared to have scraped their hands but declined medical attention, while the motorcyclist in the latter case was uninjured and rode their motorcycle away from the scene.

The ODI has confirmed that the vehicles were operating in the ADS autonomous modes at the time of the collision, and it says the investigation into roughly 500 Zoox Highlander units will evaluate the aforementioned accidents. In addition, the investigation will look at the software’s behavior in crosswalks around pedestrians and in other similar situations to the accidents.

“Our team is currently reviewing the request for information as part of NHTSA’s Preliminary Evaluation (PE). We do not have additional details to share at this time,” wrote a Zoox spokesperson in an email to Teslarati. “Transparency and collaboration with regulators is of the utmost importance, and we remain committed to working closely with NHTSA to answer their questions.”

The accidents both took place last month, one in Spring Valley, Nevada, and the other in San Francisco, California. You can see the full ODI report below, in which the agency approved opening a preliminary investigation.


The news comes after the agency opened a preliminary probe into Ford’s BlueCruise partially automated driving system a few weeks ago, following two reports of accidents that occurred while the self-proclaimed “hands-free highway driving” software was engaged.

It also comes as other driverless ride-sharing companies face scrutiny, especially after one vehicle from General Motors’ (GM) self-driving company Cruise hit, dragged, and pinned a pedestrian who had been struck by another vehicle last year.

Google parent company Alphabet also owns driverless ride-hailing company Waymo, and despite the company also facing some legal challenges, it was also approved to expand self-driving tests to additional areas of California in recent months. Tesla has also announced plans to unveil a robotaxi platform in August, based on its Full Self-Driving (FSD) software.

Updated 5:02 p.m. MT: Edited second paragraph and added third paragraph for accuracy.

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Regulators open probe into Amazon self-driving unit Zoox after accidents
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