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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.

Updated 28 mins ago - World

Skripal poisoning suspects linked to Czech blast, as country expels 18 Russians

Combined images released by British police in 2018 of Alexander Petrov (L) and Ruslan Boshirov, who are suspected of carrying out an attack in the in the southern English city of Salisbury using Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent, and also the2014 Czech depot explosion. Photo: Metropolitan Police via Getty Images

Czech police on Saturday connected two Russian men suspected of carrying out a poisoning attack in Salisbury, England, with a deadly ammunition depot explosion southeast of the capital, Prague, per Reuters.

Driving the news: Czech officials announced Saturday they're expelling 18 Russian diplomats they accuse of being involved in the blast in Vrbětice, AP notes. Czech police said later they're searching for two men carrying several passports — including two named Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.

Indianapolis mass shooting suspect legally bought 2 guns, police say

Marion County Forensic Services vehicles are parked at the site of a mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Friday. Photo: Jeff Dean/AFP via Getty Images

The suspected gunman in this week's mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis legally purchased two assault rifles believed to have been used in the attack, police said late Saturday.

Of note: The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department's statement that Brandon Scott Hole, 19, bought the rifles last July and September comes a day after the FBI said in a statement to news outlets that a "shotgun was seized" from the suspect in March 2020 after his mother raised concerns about his mental health.