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The US Government has officially opened an investigation into Waymo, the self-driving car unit under Google’s parent company Alphabet, over safety concerns.

 The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is probing nearly two dozen incidents involving Waymo’s vehicles that are equipped with its fifth-generation autonomous driving technology. This follows reports that these vehicles were involved in various accidents while operating autonomously, including colliding with stationary objects and violating traffic laws.

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According to NHTSA, the reports detail 22 specific incidents where Waymo vehicles were the only cars involved in collisions or had breached traffic regulations. Among the noted issues were collisions with static objects like gates and parked cars, as well as incidents where the vehicles behaved unexpectedly near traffic control devices. The autonomous vehicles were also reported to have driven against traffic in opposing lanes and entered construction zones, posing potential safety risks to public road users.

The investigation will focus on assessing the ability of Waymo’s autonomous driving systems to recognize and respond to traffic control signs and to avoid accidents effectively. According to the NHTSA, their investigation aims to ensure these technologies meet safety standards to prevent future incidents. 

Waymo Trusted Tester Final

A spokesperson from Waymo responded to the investigation, emphasizing the company’s commitment to safety and collaboration with federal safety regulators. “At Waymo, we currently serve over 50 thousand weekly trips for our riders in some of the most challenging and complex environments. We are proud of our performance and safety record over tens of millions of autonomous miles driven, as well as our demonstrated commitment to safety transparency.”

The inquiry into Waymo is part of a broader scrutiny by the NHTSA, which includes investigations into other autonomous vehicle developers like General Motors’s Cruise, Amazon’s Zoox, and Tesla.


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