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Former NHTSA chief Mark Rosekind joined Zoox as its Chief Safety Innovation Officer.

Zoox, the Silicon Valley start-up car company, that is promising to build an autonomous vehicle has recruited the country’s former top federal safety regulator as the company’s as head of safety innovation.

Former NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind joined the company’s executive team as the Chief Safety Innovation Officer. He will lead Zoox’s efforts to safely develop, test, and deploy autonomous vehicles, according to a statement released by Zoox co-founders Tim Kentley-Klay and Dr. Jesse Levinson.

The Palo Alto, California-based startup has stayed “under-the-radar.” But Zoox is said to be building automated vehicle that could compete with future vehicles from Google Tesla, Ford, General Motors and Mercedes-Benz, which are currently considered the leaders in automated driving.

Zoox first surfaced at the Los Angeles auto show in 2013, presenting a rendering of possible design of a self-driving vehicle, but has generally maintained a low profile since then even as the buzz around the potential of autonomous vehicle has grown exponentially.

(Foxx says autonomous vehicles still five years out in the U.S. Click Here for the story.)

The company’s rising valuation, however, was highlighted during its latest round of fundraising bringing it more it attention. The hiring of the respected Rosekind could give Zoox additional credibility.

Zoox, in its press release announcing Rosekind’s hiring, said that he joins Zoox following a “successful” tenure as the Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (at the U.S. Department of Transportation in Washington, D.C.

“While leading NHTSA, Rosekind championed the role that autonomous vehicle technology can play in improving roadway safety and reducing vehicle-related injuries and fatalities. There, he worked with government and industry stakeholders to craft and release the first-ever Federal Automated Vehicles Policy,” the release noted.

“Dr. Rosekind’s intellectual curiosity and lifelong passion for safety in mobility make him a natural fit for Zoox’s mission,” said Kentley-Klay, Zoox CEO.

(Click Here for details about Zoox’s last round of fundraising.)

“His career has spanned remote vehicle operations at NASA, human factors research into fatigue, accident safety investigation at the NTSB, and finally, advancing the state of the art in AV policy while helming NHTSA. Mark’s diverse journey finds its zenith in Zoox’s mission: to create autonomous mobility.

“We are thrilled that his unparalleled experience, insight, and leadership will help ensure that our autonomous vehicle systems are developed, tested, and deployed with best-in-class safety principles,” Kentley-Klay added.

“Zoox has an integrated, full-system approach to transforming mobility that is unique across the autonomous vehicle landscape,” Rosekind said.

(Tesla CEO Musk warns that critics of autonomous vehicles are “killing people.” For the story, Click Here.)

“Their technology, creativity, and vision are impressive and coupled with a passion to improve the world. Joining Zoox represents an opportunity to deliver on my deeply held belief that safety innovation will be critical in the transition to autonomous mobility.”

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