By Alexandria Sage
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Autonomous car start-up Zoox said on Monday that former top U.S. safety regulator Mark Rosekind was joining the Silicon Valley company as its chief safety innovation officer, underscoring the key role regulation will play in the nascent autonomous driving sector.
The hiring of Rosekind, the former head of the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is a major play for Zoox, which has remained secretive about its plans and strategy, and a hire that shows the importance of regulation in how self-driving technology rolls out.
Zoox said Rosekind would lead the company’s efforts to “safely develop, test and deploy autonomous vehicles.”
In a statement, Rosekind said that Zoox had “an integrated, full-system approach to transforming mobility that is unique across the autonomous vehicle landscape.”
Zoox envisions fleets of autonomous vehicles in urban centers, and has developed a full-stack system comprising both hardware and software.
NHTSA under Rosekind issued voluntary guidelines for carmakers and others in the self-driving space last September for the technology behind self-driving cars.
In January, General Motors Co hired NHTSA’s chief counsel, Paul Hemmersbaugh, to serve as policy director at GM with a focus on “transportation as a service.” Hemmersbaugh’s resume describes him as the principal author of the NHTSA federal automated vehicles policy.
Alphabet Inc has also hired several former top NHTSA officials as consultants, or to work at its Waymo self-driving car unit.
Another former NHTSA executive, Kevin Vincent, who was Hemmersbaugh’s predecessor in 2015, was named director of Regulatory and Safety Affairs at Faraday Future, a China-backed electric vehicle start-up.
(Additional reporting By David Shepardson; Editing by Alistair Bell)