NHTSA opens inquiry into self-certification of Zoox autonomous vehicle

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched an inquiry into the self-certification of the Zoox autonomous vehicle. Zoox, backed by Amazon, was granted a permit last month to begin testing the robotaxi on public roads, which features no pedals or steering wheel.

It is that unique configuration without traditional driver controls that forms the basis for the inquiry. According to NHTSA companies can develop their own processes to prove their autonomous vehicles meet the safety agency’s regulations, allowing them to self-certify the vehicle.

The NHTSA had asked Zoox additional questions on its self-certification last September, and on Monday announced they were opening an audit query to determine whether the Zoox “certification basis depended upon unilaterally developed test procedures or determinations that certain standards were inapplicable due to the unique configuration of the vehicle,” Reuters reports.

When contacted for comment Zoox general counsel Christopher Nalevanko said their tests “have met or exceeded applicable (federal) performance requirements. We are committed to working closely with NHTSA on the questions they have, and we remain confident in our self-certification process and data.”

Zoox conducted their first successful test of their bi-directional EV last month where the autonomous vehicle drove between two of the company’s office buildings in Foster City, California. Testing will soon expand to include all employees who can opt to travel the 1-mile route between the two offices in the autonomous vehicle.

If the trials are successful Zoox aims to expand beyond their limited test area and begin offering rides to the public, but there is currently no timeline for when that might happen.

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