Feds Expand Waymo Robotaxi Investigation with Nine New Incidents


Federal safety regulators have identified nine additional incidents that raise concerns about the safety of Waymo’s self-driving vehicles in Phoenix and San Francisco.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) initiated an inquiry into Waymo’s autonomous vehicle software earlier this month after receiving 22 reports of robotaxis making unforeseen movements that led to crashes and potential traffic law violations. Labeled as a “preliminary evaluation,” the investigation is scrutinizing the software’s capacity to prevent collisions with stationary objects and how effectively it detects and reacts to “traffic safety control devices” such as cones.

The agency announced on Friday that it has identified nine more incidents since initiating the investigation. Waymo was unavailable for comment; this article will be updated if a response from the Alphabet-owned company is received.

Waymo reported some of these incidents. The additional cases were found by regulators through public posts on social media platforms and forums like Reddit, YouTube, and X. The new incidents include reports of Waymo robotaxis crashing into gates, utility poles, and parked vehicles, driving in the wrong lane with oncoming traffic, and entering construction zones.

The ODI expressed concern that the robotaxis displaying such unexpected driving behaviors might escalate the risk of crashes, property damage, and injuries. Although no injuries have been reported from these incidents, several involved collisions with noticeable objects that “a competent driver would be expected to avoid.” The agency was also worried about the proximity of some incidents to pedestrians.

NHTSA has given Waymo until June 11 to respond to a list of questions related to the investigation.

NHTSA has intensified its investigations into automated driving technology. Earlier this month, the agency opened an investigation into autonomous vehicles operated by Amazon-backed Zoox. This probe was initiated after receiving two reports of the company’s autonomous-equipped Toyota Highlanders being rear-ended by motorcycles after the SUVs suddenly applied the brakes.

Kirsten Korosec
Kirsten Korosec
Senior Reporter & Editor. Kirsten specializes in transportation/autos and technology. She also likes numbers.

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