Dec 23, 2020 - Technology

Nuro gets green light for self-driving delivery service in California

Image of person placing a CVS bag into one of Nuro's self-driving delivery vehicles.

Nuro now has permission to launch a commercial service using its self-driving vehicles. Photo: Nuro

Self-driving tech company Nuro says it will begin charging customers for robot delivery services early next year after obtaining a critical permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

Why it matters: While many companies are allowed to test autonomous vehicles in California, Nuro is the first company to receive a permit to commercially deploy them on public streets.

Between the lines: Under California law, there is a three-stage permitting process for companies to move from testing AVs with a safety driver, to driverless testing, and finally, to commercial deployment. 

  • “Issuing the first deployment permit is a significant milestone in the evolution of autonomous vehicles in California,” DMV Director Steve Gordon said in a press release. “We will continue to keep the safety of the motoring public in mind as this technology develops.”

Details: Nuro will begin delivery service with partners in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, using its self-driving Toyota Priuses, then gradually add its purpose-built R2 vehicles to the fleet.

  • The vehicles have a maximum speed of 25 mph and are only approved to operate in fair weather conditions on streets with a speed limit of no more than 35 mph.
  • The low-speed R2 has an exemption from federal motor vehicle safety standards which allows it to operate even though it lacks certain features of human-driven cars like a windshield and side-view mirrors.

Of note: Nuro also announced Wednesday that it acquired Ike Robotics, a self-driving long-haul trucking startup with which it has been closely aligned. Terms were not announced.

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