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Waymo

SCIENCE & TECH: Google-owned Waymo’s robotaxis face federal safety probe over crashes, potential traffic violations

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Waymo, the Google-owned, self-driving vehicle startup, faces a preliminary probe from federal safety regulators after its robotaxis were linked to nearly two dozen traffic incidents.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Tuesday it has received a total of 22 reports, including 17 in which self-driving Waymo cars were the “sole vehicle” involved in a crash.

The NHTSA filing said the agency’s probe is focused on “[automated driving system] behavior causing single-party crashes and potential traffic safety law violations.”

“Reports include collisions with stationary and semi-stationary objects such as gates and chains, collisions with parked vehicles, and instances in which the ADS appeared to disobey traffic safety control devices,” the NHTSA said.

In other incidents, Waymo vehicles were allegedly “driving in opposing lanes with nearby oncoming traffic or entering construction zones,” the agency added, citing publicly available reports.


Waymo cars were involved in 22 incidents, according to the NHTSA. AFP via Getty Images

The Post has reached out to the NHTSA for further comment.

The robotaxis are in use mostly in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Phoenix.

When reached for comment, a Waymo spokesperson said the firm serves “over 50,000 weekly trips for our riders in some of the most challenging and complex environments” and signaled it will cooperate with the investigation.

“NHTSA plays a very important role in road safety and we will continue to work with them as part of our mission to become the world’s most trusted driver,” a Waymo spokesperson said in a statement in response to the probe.

The preliminary probe is part of an NHTSA process that could eventually lead to a recall if investigators find sufficient cause for concern.


Waymo
Waymo signaled it will cooperate with the probe. REUTERS

The announcement is just the latest sign that federal safety officials are scrutinizing self-driving and semi-autonomous driving software as it gains popularity in the US.

The NHTSA is in the midst of a lengthy investigation into Tesla’s “Autopilot” software.

In December, Tesla sent out an over-the-air software update to nearly all of its US cars to make sure drivers sufficiently pay attention when Autopilot is engaged.

The agency also announced a probe into Amazon-owned Zoox earlier this week after two Toyota Highlanders that were equipped with its self-driving technology were involved in accidents.

With Post wires



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