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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

Jan 19, 2021 - Energy & Environment

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.

51 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Stalemate over filibuster freezes Congress

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell's inability to quickly strike a deal on a power-sharing agreement in the new 50-50 Congress is slowing down everything from the confirmation of President Biden's nominees to Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

Why it matters: Whatever final stance Schumer takes on the stalemate, which largely comes down to Democrats wanting to use the legislative filibuster as leverage over Republicans, will be a signal of the level of hardball we should expect Democrats to play with Republicans in the new Senate.

Dave Lawler, author of World
1 hour ago - World

Biden opts for five-year extension of New START nuclear treaty with Russia

Putin at a military parade. Photo: Valya Egorshin/NurPhoto via Getty

President Biden will seek a five-year extension of the New START nuclear arms control pact with Russia before it expires on Feb. 5, senior officials told the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The 2010 treaty is the last remaining constraint on the arsenals of the world's two nuclear superpowers, limiting the number of deployed nuclear warheads and the bombers, missiles and submarines which can deliver them.