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Although we're riding the exciting wave of progress towards fully autonomous vehicles, recent mishaps remind us that the road to a driverless future is fraught with not only technical but also safety and regulatory challenges. Amazon's self-driving unit, Zoox, is currently under the microscope of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), adding to the list of emergent challenges for tomorrow's transportation.

In two separate incidents, Zoox's self-driving Toyota Highlanders were reported to be involved in rear-end collisions while operating autonomously during daylight hours. These instances have triggered a broader investigation by the NHTSA, which aims to scrutinize the performance of the automated driving system at the time of the crashes, and specifically, its behavior towards pedestrians and other road users.

Zoox, founded in 2014 and acquired by Amazon in 2020, had the vision of transforming the future of mobility. Many experts believe Amazon's acquisition of Zoox was primarily to create a fleet of self-driving vehicles for autonomous deliveries, which could potentially revolutionize the logistics sector.

However, the recent incidents serve as a stark reminder that transitioning to a fully autonomous world is not a straightforward task. The NHTSA has not only begun to put the performance of Zoox's automated driving systems under the lens but has also cast doubts on Zoox's certification of its vehicles meeting federal safety standards—a matter already under investigation separately.

In a world where self-driving cars are becoming increasingly common, companies are expected to adhere to safety regulations such as the 2021 order requiring companies to report crashes involving their automated vehicles— a mandate that led to the disclosure of these crashes by Zoox.

Despite these troubles, Zoox has shown an openness to collaborate with regulators, emphasizing the importance of transparency. Autonomous vehicles, with their ability to travel up to 75 mph and run on public roads at up to 35 mph, bring the promise of making our daily commutes and delivery systems faster and less labor-intensive.

Yet, the recent events serve as a cautionary tale and highlight the importance of comprehensive scrutiny, rigorous testing, and adherence to the highest safety standards before these vehicles can be safely adopted on a large scale. Amazon and Zoox's experience underscores the fact that achieving the dream of autonomous mobility is not just about technology; it's also about winning regulatory, safety, and public confidence— challenges that will significantly shape the landscape of tomorrow's transportation.

As we look ahead to the days where our groceries or parcels arrive on our doorstep without a driver, this investigation serves as a timely reminder that the future of autonomous driving is still a work in progress, and that ensuring safety is as paramount as the technology that drives it.