Self-Driving Car Startup Nuro Focused On Delivery Vehicles

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A new self-driving car startup — this one focused on local delivery vehicles, and founded by former Google/Waymo engineers — named Nuro has now come out of stealth mode.

There seems to be a plethora of such startups revealing themselves in recent days — that is, startups focused on autonomous driving tech in some way or other — but there haven’t been many with a focus on delivery vehicles as of yet, which is interesting considering that the application is probably one of the most likely to see actual commercial use.

The engineers behind Nuro are of course arguing that the use of such delivery vehicles could result in reduced vehicle use and emissions (as well as traffic), owing to increased efficiency with regard to vehicle use. The idea is also to give local businesses who are having a hard time competing with Amazon a leg up.

The Verge provides more:

“At first glance, Nuro’s R1 prototype (just an internal nickname and not the official name) looks like a giant lunchbox on wheels, or maybe even a mobile toaster…But a closer inspection reveals that the ‘handle’ on the roof is actually a platform for the vehicle’s sensor array, which includes LIDAR, cameras, and radars. And a peek through the windshield will also reveal the complete absence of traditional controls like steering wheels, foot pedals, and gear shifts. There’s no driver seat because humans were not meant to operate this vehicle.

“That said, Nuro is designing its vehicles for remote operation…But real-time teleoperation has its challenges, such as signal latency and other issues. To gain enough confidence for public deployment, Nuro is using a fleet of 6 self-driving cars to collect data and optimize routes, which then gets fed into its prototype vehicles. Nuro has received a permit from the California DMV and plans to start testing on public roads later this year. But the company will need sign-off from the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration before it can operate in states where regulation prohibits completely human-free driving.

“The vehicle is about as tall as a Toyota Highlander but only about half the width, which Ferguson said is one of its standout features. This skinniness translates into a 3 to 4-foot ‘buffer’ around the R1 so other vehicles and pedestrians can maneuver safely around it.”

The plan is reportedly for delivery information to be provided via app, so that customers know when they should head outside to pick up their goods — with a provided code being used to gain one-time access to the vehicle’s side hatches.

Notably, Nuro has reportedly already raised $92 million in funding, and has already entered into discussions with a number of retailers and delivery firms about possible collaboration.

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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