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Zoox: Autonomous vehicle not in self-driving mode at time of crash

Updated November 18, 2022 - 10:45 am

A fully autonomous capable SUV being tested in Las Vegas wasn’t in self-driving mode when it was involved in a crash earlier this week, company officials said Friday.

On Monday, a 2016 Toyota Highlander outfitted with fully autonomous driving technology owned by California-based Zoox was traveling eastbound on Harmon Avenue when it rear-ended a tractor-trailer stopped at a traffic signal near Planet Hollywood Resort, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.

Zoox, which has been testing autonomous vehicles in Las Vegas since 2019, said the crash occurred while a driver was at control of the vehicle.

“Zoox has reviewed the data from this incident and has confirmed that it was caused by driver error,” John Maddox, senior director, safety, policy and strategy at Zoox, said in a statement. “The vehicle was being driven manually at the time of the incident and was not in autonomous mode at any point in the previous minute. The collision occurred at low speed, and there were no injuries.”

The crash report stated the safety driver behind the wheel of the Highlander at the time of the crash told police she expected the vehicle to stop on its own as it approached the truck in front of her.

Police noted the driver said she was in control of the vehicle at the time of the crash, despite her expectation that the vehicle would stop on its own.

The safety driver was cited by Metro for failure to reduce speed/failing to use due care.

Zoox also conducts self-driving testing operations in San Francisco and Seattle.

The company maps the cities where the vehicles operate and to test and validate their autonomous technology, according to Zoox’s website. A safety driver is always in place while Zoox’s vehicles are on the road.

The company hopes to parlay its testing into launching a commercial ride hailing service in Las Vegas.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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