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Amazon Robotaxi Service Faces Federal Investigation After San Francisco Rear-Ender

Robotaxis have sparked widespread concern across San Francisco, and the latest company to face scrutiny is Zoox. Owned and operated by the tech giant Amazon, this company uses self-driving technology to transport customers from point A to point B. However, the automated driving software is showing signs of concern, as the robotaxis reportedly have a tendency to suddenly stop without warning. This has led to at least one rear-ender accident in San Francisco with notable injuries. What can you do after a robotaxi crash in San Francisco? How can you cover the cost of your medical expenses, missed wages, and emotional distress?

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Investigates Zoox

Amazon Robotaxi Service Faces Federal Investigation After San Francisco Rear-EnderIn May of 2024, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that it was investigating Zoox, the robotaxi company owned and operated by Amazon. Two incidents appear to have sparked the investigation, and both involved rear-end impacts. Zoox vehicles are all driven by autonomous software, the same type of software utilized by many other new vehicles in the modern era. 

This includes not only Teslas, but also GM’s now-infamous Cruise vehicles. Cruise was completely taken off the streets in San Francisco after numerous questionable incidents. One of these incidents involved a woman being dragged for almost an entire block by a Cruise vehicle. It took the vehicle’s onboard software far too long to register that a human being was trapped underneath. 

Although Zoox has yet to cause such a high-profile crash, there are nonetheless worrying issues associated with its self-driving tech. Details are still unclear, but it seems as though these vehicles sometimes stop suddenly without warning – giving rear vehicles no time to react. This type of issue has led to at least two rear-ender accidents, including an incident in San Francisco. 

After the rear-end crash in San Francisco, an occupant complained of hand injuries. These injuries may have occurred because the occupant outstretched their hands after being suddenly jolted forward. This could have caused wrist sprains, wrist fractures, finger fractures, and similar injuries. However, the occupant of the Zoox vehicle reportedly declined emergency medical treatment at the scene of the accident. The second rear-end crash occurred in Nevada, causing injuries to the occupant’s back. 

According to an official statement from Zoox, these autonomous vehicles are Toyota Highlanders “retrofitted” with self-driving technology. Despite their autonomous operation, Zoox claims that they always have a human “safety driver” sitting behind the wheel. However, even the most alert safety driver cannot stop self-driving software from suddenly engaging the brakes. A safety driver may be able to veer away from a collision, but there is no way to “cancel” the sudden application of brakes. Before anyone can do anything about it, the vehicle is screeching to a halt – making rear impacts almost inevitable. 

Zoox also has other vehicles specifically designed for Amazon employees. These cars are completely devoid of steering wheels and brake pedals – operating purely with self-driving tech. Apparently, these vehicles are capable of highway speeds, but they have yet to exceed 35 miles per hour on rural roads so far. 

Robotaxis Have Become Highly Controversial in San Francisco

New questions over the safety of self-driving technology will undoubtedly spark concerns among San Francisco residents. Public backlash against these vehicles has been high, especially after the accidents involving Cruise vehicles. There were even reports of angry mobs attacking and vandalizing self-driving vehicles on sight. The message from this crowd was clear: Robotaxis are not trusted. Among other circles, robotaxi services are still quite popular, although Waymo seems to be the last company standing in this regard (at least in San Francisco). 

Many Bay Area residents believe that they are being used as “guinea pigs” to test questionable and potentially unsafe self-driving software. Major tech companies are headquartered in Silicon Valley, and these streets of San Francisco may seem like an obvious testing ground for tech oligarchs eager to cash in on profitable new technology. Too often, San Francisco residents pay the price. 

Find an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer in San Francisco

Injured plaintiffs often struggle to find reliable car accident attorneys in San Francisco, but experienced lawyers are ready to help if you know where to look. Choose Mary Alexander & Associates to pursue justice and compensation after a rear-ender in San Francisco. You have every right to consider legal action if you were rear-ended – whether you were riding in a robotaxi, an Uber, or your own vehicle. Book your consultation today to assess your legal options in more detail. 

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