Google Alphabet-owned Waymo is facing a probe into its autonomous vehicle after reports of “unexpected” ADS (automated driving system) behaviour, according to news agencies.

The US’ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said its preliminary evaluation focused on “behaviour causing single-party crashes and potential traffic safety violations.”

It is looking into an estimated 444 Waymo vehicles following reports of 22 incidents including 17 collisions. These vehicles were equipped with 5th generation ADS.

There were no reports of fatalities, but collisions occurred with “stationary and semi-stationary objects such as gates and chains,” the document said. 

One piece of footage shared on social media platform TikTok allegedly showed a Waymo vehicle driving the wrong way down a highway after pulling out of a junction.

In a statement, the autonomous driving firm said it was “proud of our performance and safety record over tens of millions of autonomous miles driven, as well as our demonstrated commitment to safety transparency.”

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It said it will continue to work with NHTSA.

Waymo has become the latest firm to be probed over concerns over its robotaxis.

General Motors’ self-driving unit Cruise tentatively rejoined the roads in the state of Arizona earlier this year, supervised by safety drivers.

At its Q1 2024 results conference, CEO Mary Barra said: “We are frequently engaging with regulators and stakeholders: safety will remain front and centre and will guide our progress.”

Cruise’s operations were suspended last year after an incident involving a pedestrian.

For Waymo, the NHTSA probe comes at a critical time as it had received approval from California regulators to expand its operations to the Los Angeles market.