Your groceries, pizza and medicine can now be delivered via robotic vehicles if you live in California, as Nuro received the state’s first commercial permit for autonomous delivery.
The streets of San Francisco and Silicon Valley have been occupied by self-driving vehicles from different companies for years. But the vehicles were only allowed to test on public roads. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, the robotics industry Nuro has an official stamp of approval to begin its paid service.
“The issuance of the first implementation permit is an important milestone in the development of autonomous vehicles in California. We will continue to keep the safety of the motor public in mind as this technology develops,” said Steve Gordon, director of DMV, in said a statement.
In 2017, California granted Nuro approval to test its vehicles with safety drivers inside. In April 2020, he said the company could start testing without managers.
Now the Mountain View business, which raised $ 500 million earlier this year, can deploy its paid-delivery vehicles.
It will start with modified Prius vehicles that are in a fully autonomous mode, and then roll out its fleet of R2 vehicles, which do not have driver’s seats, said David Estrada, head of legal and policy officer, in a blog post . Nuro got permission from the US government in early 2020 to throw the mirrors in its R2 fleet because they do not have seats or a steering wheel.
“R2 is purposefully designed for safety, with a design that gives preference to what is outside – the people with whom we share the roads – over what is inside,” Estrada said. It has a top speed of 35 km / h and a small frame of four feet. It works with thermal imaging, radar and 360-degree cameras to drive on the public road.
The deliveries will start in two communities near Nuro’s headquarters.
The company said deliveries without a driver would have a “huge impact” on Californians, as well as after the pandemic. They will help people who cannot drive and help streamline the lives of large, busy families, Nuro said.
“We are excited to see these benefits grow into the daily lives of the people in our communities, in the places we also call home,” Estrada said.
The company has ambitions beyond the delivery of groceries. Nuro announced last week that it was acquiring Ike, an autonomous trucking company, for an unknown amount.
Among the various patents filed by Nuro, one is set out on how advertisements can work on the side of a self-driving vehicle.
The patent describes how the sensor of a self-driving vehicle will retrieve information about its surroundings and then publish an advertisement on the side of the vehicle based on the input. If it’s raining, the vehicle might say an umbrella ad.