Feds add nine more incidents to Waymo robotaxi investigation

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Federal safety regulators have found nine more incidents that raise questions about the safety of Waymo’s autonomous vehicles operating in Phoenix and San Francisco.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) launched an investigation into Waymo’s autonomous vehicle software earlier this month after receiving 22 reports of robotaxis making unexpected movements that led to crashes and potentially violated traffic safety laws. The investigation, named a “preliminary assessment,” is examining the software and its ability to avoid collisions with stationary objects and how well it detects and responds to “traffic safety control devices” such as cones.

The agency said Friday that it had added nine more incidents since the investigation began. Waymo could not be reached for comment; TechCrunch will update the article if the Alphabet-owned company responds.

Waymo reported some of these incidents. Other incidents were discovered by regulators through public postings on social media and forums such as Reddit, YouTube and X. An additional nine incidents include reports of Waymo robotaxis colliding with gates, utility poles and parked vehicles, driving in the wrong lane with oncoming traffic and entering construction zones.

ODI said it was concerned that robotaxis “exhibiting such unpredictable driving behaviors may increase the risk of crashes, property damage, and injuries.” The agency said that while it was not aware of any injuries from these incidents, many of the incidents involved collisions with visible objects that “a competent driver would be expected to avoid.” The agency also expressed concern that some of these incidents occurred near pedestrians.

NHTSA has given Waymo until June 11 to answer a number of questions related to the investigation.

NHTSA has stepped up its scrutiny of automated driving technology. Earlier this month, the agency launched a probe into autonomous vehicles operated by Amazon-backed Zoox. The investigation began after the company received two reports of autonomous-equipped Toyota Highlanders being hit from behind by motorcycles when the SUVs unexpectedly applied the brakes.

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