Amazon’s self-driving unit, Zoox, will bring its autonomous vehicles to even more cities. This comes after an announcement on June 5, wherein the company stated they planned to begin testing in Austin and Miami this summer. The two cities mark the fourth and fifth cities that Zoox is being tested in. Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Seattle have already experienced Zoox vehicles driving on their streets.

The news of this expansion comes as federal regulators increase their scrutiny of self-driving vehicle companies such as Waymo and Zoox, both of which are currently under investigation over safety issues. The National Highway Traffic Administration requested more information from Zoox earlier in June to aid in its probe into the rear-end crash risks that are posed by unexpected braking.

This scrutiny, which is fueled in part by a Cruise incident that involved a pedestrian collision, may be one of the reasons why Zoox has made slow advancements in testing and scaling.

A spokesperson for Zoox has stated that the company began mapping cities this spring. Zoox will deploy its retrofitted Toyota Highlander test fleet over the summer, with safety drivers behind the wheel “in small areas near the business and entertainment districts.” The company has not stated how many test vehicles it would be sending to each city.

AD 4nXceeNucU9S4i6IwfNC0MIps1A40kadfcJaR28f7bCz6a3FVOu9KU

Zoox has also not claimed when it aims to remove the safety drivers, or even when it would begin commercial operations in Austin or Miami. The company is presently focused on using the varying urban environments to fine-tune its autonomous system. Examples include Austin having horizontal lights, traffic lights hanging on wires, railway crossings, and experiencing torrential thunderstorms. Miami’s issues lie in traffic lights suspended diagonally across interactions, as well as reported impatient drivers.

Zoox’s testing protocols are twofold, during which the company identifies specific, pre-planned routes that offer challenging driving features and scenarios, which also randomly test certain point-to-point routes within a defined geofence.

“We always start with a focused testing area, expanding methodically as our AI gets more familiar with the unique conditions in each city,” Zoox has stated.

The plans to test in Austin as well as in Miami come as Zoox prepares for its first commercial march. Zoox presently has a permit to test its vehicles without a safety driver in parts of San Francisco and Foster City, and is working to target that market as one of its first launch cities alongside Las Vegas. However, Zoox has not stated when commercial deployment or to provide definitions of the geofenced areas would be defined.

Zoox has become associated with images of its robotaxi, which is its breadbox-shaped vehicle with no steering wheel, pedals, and side doors that open to admit passengers. The company won’t be testing the robotaxis on public roads in Austin or Miami as of yet. However, Zoox has begun limited testing of the fully driverless robotaxis on roads in Las Vegas and Foster City, and plans to begin offering rides to passengers sometime this year. Just this past February, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) granted Zoox its driverless AV pilot permit. This allows the company to carry members of the public for free within the bounds of the approved Foster City domain. Zoox has not stated if it has begun doing that as of now.

The news of Zoox’s expansion comes as the robotaxi service industry gains headlines. GM’s Cruise has recently announced plans to test robotaxis in Dallas and Phoenix, while Waymo began offering driverless rides to employees in Austin in preparation for its commercial launch this year. Waymo has also announced plans to begin testing its robotaxi service in Atlanta.