Amazon’s Zoox to expand testing of its self-driving cars to Austin and Miami

United States

Zoox, the self-driving-vehicle unit of Inc. AMZN, +1.08%, will soon expand street testing to Austin, Texas, and Miami, Fla.

In a blog post Wednesday, Zoox said the expansion “marks a significant step forward.” Zoox vehicles first started testing on the streets of San Francisco in 2018, and have since expanded to Las Vegas and Seattle.

“We’re laying the foundations for our autonomous ride-hailing service in new cities across the U.S.,” Ron Thaniel, Zoox’s senior director of policy and regulatory affairs, said in a statement. ”Austin and Miami offer key learning opportunities that will support the continued growth and refinement of our testing and service.”

While Zoox operates some autonomous robotaxis that don’t have steering wheels, those won’t be deployed to Austin and Miami just yet. To start, the company will use retrofitted Toyota Highlander SUVs with safety drivers, and it won’t offer robotaxi rides to the general public. A launch date was not announced, other than “soon.”

Last month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it was investigating Zoox after a pair of crashes. In both instances, one in San Francisco and one outside Las Vegas, Zoox Highlanders operating in autonomous mode apparently braked suddenly, and were rear-ended by motorcycles.

At the time, Zoox said it would work with the NHTSA and that “transparency and collaboration with regulators is of utmost importance.”

In its blog post Wednesday, Zoox said it was ”dedicated to working closely with local officials, regulators, and residents to ensure a safe and seamless integration of Zoox into these cities.”