Feds Add 9 More Incidents to Waymo Robotaxi Investigation


Federal safety regulators tasked with investigating Alphabet’s Waymo have discovered nine additional incidents that bring the safety of the self-driving vehicles into question.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) opened an investigation into Waymo earlier this month after receiving 22 reports of the self-driving taxis making moves that led to crashers or violated safety laws, TechCrunch reports.

A preliminary investigation into the vehicles’ software is looking at how well the vehicles can avoid collisions with stationary objects as well as traffic control devices like cones. Since the beginning of the probe, the agency added an additional nine incidents to its list. While some of the incidents were reported by Waymo, others were discovered by regulators on social media.

Issues include vehicles colliding with utility poles, gates, and parked cars as well as driving in the wrong lane with incoming traffic approaching and driving into construction zones. In one YouTube video, a Waymo vehicle in Phoenix is almost struck by a bus when it turns across oncoming traffic. The NHTSA says “a competent driver would be expected to avoid” these types of crashes.

Investigators sent a series of questions to Waymo about its cars and software that the company is required to respond to by June 11.

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Just a few weeks ago, Waymo announced that it now completes more than 50,000 driver-free trips each week in the three major cities where it operates: Phoenix, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. The company also recently started offering Uber Eats deliveries using the cars.

Investigators are currently also investigating Amazon’s Zoox self-driving tech over allegations that the vehicles make sudden stops which lead to rear-end collisions.

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