Nuro’s Robot Delivery Pod Can Now Charge California Customers
Nuro has received the first permit allowing him to operate self-driving delivery vehicles commercially in California.
The green light granted by the Silicon Valley Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) means the Silicon Valley-based company can bill customers for its delivery services using its self-driving vehicles.
The decision comes eight months after DMV gave Nuro permission to test its R2 electric delivery vehicle on public roads. Trials have also taken place in Texas and Arizona.
Responding to this week’s news, David Estrada, Nuro’s chief legal and policy officer, said in an online post that his team would shortly announce the details of its first commercial engagement with “an established partner” in the Bay Area be involved.
The service will begin with Nuro’s fleet of Prius vehicles in fully autonomous mode, followed by the bespoke R2 electric vehicles, Estrada said.
Nuro’s R2 autonomous vehicle transports goods in two separate compartments and has no space for passengers. It comes with all the usual sensors, cameras, lidar and radar technologies to ensure it can safely reach its destination before returning to base. The vehicle has cargo doors with seagull wings reminiscent of the DeLorean automobile known from Back to the Future, although the R2’s top speed of 40 km / h means Nuro’s vehicle is a bit more leisurely.
Customers who place an order with the R2 can use an app to track the vehicle on its way to their home. Upon arrival, a warning will appear on the customer’s phone asking them to go outside to collect their order. All you have to do is enter a code number on the R2’s touchscreen to unlock the relevant compartment.
Formulating his vision for Nuro and related services, Estrada insisted that driverless delivery “will have a huge impact on Californians in the years to come”. He added, “We are delighted that these benefits are growing into the everyday lives of people in our country communities in the places where we are also at home. “
Nuro was co-founded in 2016 by Dave Ferguson and Jiajun Zhu. Both gained important experience from their time with Google’s autonomous vehicle unit – now Waymo – in the early days.