"Ride like everyone is trying to kill you, and you might be all right." is one of the best pieces of advice I ever got, but it's become outdated.

Now we need to tell new riders to "ride like everything is trying to kill you, and you might be all right." Because something is fundamentally different compared to when I was given that first piece of advice.

Instead of only worrying about idiots behind the wheel who aren't paying attention, now riders need to worry about self-driving vehicles doing erratic and completely unpredictable things. That's exactly what happened recently as two Amazon-owed Zoox self-driving vehicles caused two crashes with motorcycles.

Here's everything you need to know.

NHTSA Opens Investigation

According to Reuters, on May 13th, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation into Zoox self-driving vehicles due to unexpected braking leading to two rear-end collisions that caused minor injuries to two motorcyclists.

The preliminary evaluation will investigate the self-driving technology known as the Zoox Automated Driving System, which is equipped on 500 of the company's vehicles—both incidents involved Toyota Highlanders that were equipped with the Zoox system.

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What We Know

According to the NHTSA, both crashes occurred during daytime lighting conditions and within the operational design limits of the Zoox self-driving system. The NHTSA had this to say, "Each of the Zoox vehicles was operating with the ADS engaged in the moments leading up to each collision."

The ongoing investigation will evaluate the Zoox Automated Driving System's performance around vulnerable road users, crosswalks, and other rear-end collision scenarios. 

A spokesperson for Zooks has yet to offer a statement about the individual incidents, but said the company was reviewing the request for information and that, "Transparency and collaboration with regulators is of the utmost importance, and we remain committed to working closely with NHTSA to answer their questions."

So, if we read between the lines, Zoox is essentially saying nothing and giving us no idea as to what caused the malfunction.

Too Much, Too Soon?

These incidents come after Zoox expanded its vehicle testing in California and Nevada this March to include a wider area, higher speeds, and nighttime driving. This expansion is necessary if Zoox wants to compete with Alphabet's Waymo robotaxis, but these latest incidents could point to the company taking on too much too soon.

At its core, where does the burden of blame fall in these scenarios? Let us know your thoughts on testing self-driving technology on public roads in the comments section.


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