Here’s Why Federal Officials Are Investigating Waymo And Its Self-Driving Vehicles

The probe is focused on nearly two dozen incident reports. Here’s Why Federal Officials Are Investigating Waymo And Its Self-Driving Vehicles Wikipedia/By Dllu - Own work

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So-called “robotaxis” have become an increasingly common sight on the streets of a few U.S. cities recently as autonomous vehicles make their way through a rigorous testing phase.

And while the results have been pretty encouraging overall, a number of crashes and other unintended incidents are stoking concerns over the viability of self-driving cars.

Waymo in the middle

One of the most prominent names in this emerging industry is Waymo, which has been unleashing its robotaxis far and wide while allowing passengers to travel without a human in the driver’s seat.

The company’s own data highlights some impressive stats after logging more than 7 million driverless miles. Human motorists, a report released in December shows, are up to seven times more likely to result in injuries than self-driving software.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t mishaps … and that’s where the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration comes in.

“Unexpected behavior”

This week, the NHTSA announced that it had opened an investigation into nearly two dozen reports regarding Waymo vehicles, including some that originated from the company itself.

Specifically, the probe is focused on “unexpected behavior” including crashes into “stationary and semi-stationary objects” and incidents in which the self-driving cars “appeared to disobey traffic safety control devices.”

While the majority of the 22 incidents under review did result in a crash of some sort, there were no injuries reported. Nevertheless, the agency’s findings could lead to the latest recall for Waymo, which voluntarily recalled hundreds of its cars earlier this month after two collisions occurred in Arizona.

The NHTSA is also reportedly reviewing data from rivals like Cruise and Tesla ... and Waymo issued a statement vowing to cooperate with the ongoing investigation and praising the regulatory body for performing a “very important role in road safety.”

Chris Agee
Chris Agee May 15th, 2024
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