Amazon’s Zoox probed by US after two crashes in autonomous SUVs


Zoox’s L5 fully autonomous, all-electric robotaxi at Coit Tower in San Francsico. The NHTSA opened a preliminary evaluation after receiving notice of two Toyota Highlander sport utility vehicles equipped with Zoox’s automated-driving system braked unexpectedly. — Zoox

The top US auto-safety regulator has opened an investigation into Zoox, the autonomous-vehicle subsidiary of Amazon.com Inc, after two incidents in which its SUVs suddenly braked and were rear-ended.

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of Defect Investigation opened a preliminary evaluation after receiving notice of two Toyota Highlander sport utility vehicles equipped with Zoox’s automated-driving system braked unexpectedly. In both cases, motorcyclists collided with the Zoox vehicles, resulting in minor injuries, NHTSA said.

The agency has confirmed that each of the Zoox vehicles were operating in autonomous mode leading up to the collisions. Both incidents occurred during the daytime and within the domain the Zoox system is designed to operate in, according to NHTSA.

The probe covers an estimated 500 vehicles, according to documents posted Monday on the agency’s website. Zoox and Toyota – which isn’t subject to the investigation – didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

NHTSA has been subjecting both driver-assistance systems and more advanced autonomous vehicles to greater scrutiny recently. It’s launched probes of Tesla Inc’s Autopilot and Ford Motor Co BlueCruise since last month, and opened an investigation of General Motors Co’s self-driving unit Cruise late last year. – Bloomberg

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