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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.

Go deeper

Rivian raises another $2.65 billion as electric truck launch nears

Rivian R1T pickup truck. Photo: Rivian

Electric vehicle startup Rivian has raised another $2.65 billion as it builds momentum toward this year's launch of its first pickup truck, SUV and Amazon delivery vehicles.

Why it matters: Rivian continues to attract big money from private investors, even as other startups take advantage of Wall Street enthusiasm for EVs by going public through a series of mergers with special purpose acquisition companies.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker

Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates

A teacher prepares a hallway barrier to help students maintain social distancing at John B. Wright Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona, on Aug. 14, 2020. Photo: Cheney Orr/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) filed a lawsuit Friday against the Biden administration for ordering the state to stop allocating federal COVID relief funds to schools that don't comply with public health recommendations such as masking, the Arizona Republic reports.

Why it matters: The Treasury Department said last week that the state would have to pay back the money if Ducey does not redesignate the $173 million programs to ensure they don't "undermine efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19."