Amazon's Zoox to begin testing self-driving cars in Austin. Here's what to know

Austinites will soon see yet another self-driving car roaming the streets as Amazon’s Zoox has decided to add the Texas capital to its growing list of test cities.

Self-driving cars have been a source of growing concern and controversy after various incidents in places like San Francisco and on the East Coast. However, to date, none of those incidents have happened in Austin.

After a varied response locally to Alphabet’s Waymo self-driving cars, which hit a road bump in the form of a federal investigation last month, Zoox hopes to find a space in the city.

As the latest self-driving technology puts rubber to the road, here is everything you need to know about who Zoox is, when test drives will start and what happened to Waymo cars.

What is Zoox?

Founded in 2014, Zoox is Amazon’s response to innovation in the self-driving car space from tech rivals like Alphabet and Tesla. Despite now being bankrolled by the catch-all company, Zoox has only been working with Amazon since 2020.

In 2022 Strio.AI, a Boston-based robotics company applying automation and AI to agriculture applications, joined Zoox. Later that year Zoox became the first company to self-certify a purpose-built, fully autonomous, all-electric passenger vehicle to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

2023 was the first year Zoox ever tested its cars on public roads, starting with drives throughout the DMV and in various places in California. The company also added Vegas to the list of cities where it is operating last year.

According to Zoox, self-driving cars, with safety drivers, should appear on the streets of Austin in July.

Self-driving cars from Alphabet’s Waymo halted by investigation

In May the Statesman reported that self-driving car company, Waymo, was at the center of a federal investigation concerning safety and oversight of the company.

On May 13, reports that Waymo self-driving cars were causing traffic problems in various cities spurred a preliminary evaluation of the company by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The company is under investigation for collisions or traffic violations in nearly two dozen incidents, according to USA Today.

NHTSA is only investigating the 5th generation of cars made by Waymo, which is owned by Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google. The agency plans to focus its investigation on the cars' automated driving system and its ability to detect and respond to traffic control devices, according to NHTSA's notice.

It should be noted that none of the accidents under investigation occurred in Austin, however, 17 separate accidents were identified by NHTSA data.

Beck Andrew Salgado covers trending topics in the Austin business ecosystem for the American-Statesman. To share additional tips or insights withSalgado, email Bsalgado@gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Amazon's Zoox to bring self-driving cars back to Austin; what to know

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