News Roundup: Zoox Hires Top NHTSA Safety Expert, New Study Puts Ford at Top of Driverless Game, and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

A roundup of recent headlines to come out of the driverless and connected-car world over the past week:

Innovate UK opens up applications for CAV project funding

Innovate UK will award up to 55 million pounds to the organization that designs “the world’s most effective Connected Autonomous Vehicles (CAV) testing ecosystem.” Read more details online.


Zoox hires former head of NHTSA

Autonomous car startup Zoox announced it has hired Mark Rosekind, the former head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), to be its new chief safety innovation officer. Industry analysts say this is a bold move by Zoox, and shows the San Francisco-based startup recognizes how big of a role regulation will play in the future adoption of autonomous technology. Zoox said Rosekind will lead the company’s efforts to “safely develop, test and deploy autonomous vehicles.” Zoox envisions fleets of autonomous vehicles in urban centers, and has developed “a full-stack system comprising both hardware and software.” Under Rosekind, the NHTSA previously issued voluntary guidelines for automakers and others in the self-driving space last September for the technology behind self-driving cars. Read more from Reuters.


Irish engineering students show off autonomous vehicle projects

Third-year students at Trinity College Dublin have been working to “explore and develop novel concept applications” for autonomous vehicles. The students showed off some of their project ideas at the Science Gallery of Dublin on Monday. Projects included an autonomous ambulance that could increase response times; an autonomous bus that could pick up elderly people from their homes and features a door and seats that are more accessible for the mobility-impaired; a logistics system for autonomously navigating airplanes on runways; and a sports car that is more friendly and accessible to the disabled. Additionally, one of the projects featured a wheel system that eliminated the need for traditional suspensions in cars. Read more from


New study ranks companies in order of their autonomous vehicle progress

A new study by Navigant Research indicated Ford Motor Co. is currently winning the race when it comes to driverless cars. In a close second place was General Motors, followed by Renault-Nissan and Daimler. Google’s Waymo came in seventh, and Tesla Motors came in at twelfth. Uber, which has been having some difficulty with its autonomous car program, came in at sixteenth and was “docked points for having neither good production strategy nor good technology.” Uber’s self-driving car testing program recently had to be halted for three days while they investigated a serious crash in Arizona. The company is also currently involved in a lawsuit, in which Google’s Waymo has accused them of stealing its technology. The study recognized that ride-hailing companies like Uber are less likely to want to manufacture their own autonomous technology, and instead usually prefer to partner with other companies, though. Read more from NESN Fuel and USA Today.

Image: Zoox concept car, courtesy of Zoox