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Nuro's R2 driverless delivery vehicle. Photo: Nuro

Nuro received a permit this week to test its driverless delivery vehicles in Silicon Valley — where customers could really use the service right now.

Yes, but: The humans who would need to set the vehicles in motion can't do so because of coronavirus restrictions.

The big picture: Autonomous delivery seems made for the pandemic we're facing now. Home delivery has exploded as people hunker down across the country, and contactless delivery only makes more sense at a time when people are supposed to be avoiding one another.

Driving the news: Nuro's driverless testing permit is only the second one issued by California's Department of Motor Vehicles, after Waymo.

  • It allows Nuro to test real goods deliveries for its partners like Walmart and Kroger, though it may not charge a delivery fee until it receives a statewide commercial permit for fully driverless operation.
  • For now, its operating domain is limited to San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, and the number of driverless vehicles is capped at just two.

The catch: Nuro is close to finishing up development work on its new R2 low-speed driverless delivery van, which just got the green light from the federal government. But that work is on hold during California's shelter-in-place order.

  • And Nuro's original R1 driverless test shuttles are also out of commission because they require monitoring by engineers in a chase car.
  • "We have to consider the safety of all those workers," says David Estrada, Nuro's chief legal and policy officer.

The bottom line: Nuro will have to wait for the crisis to pass to try to demonstrate its value. In the meantime, it can still offer deliveries with a human-driven Toyota Prius.

Go deeper: Automakers lay out back-to-work playbook for a pandemic

Go deeper

Tim Scott hopes to reintroduce version of GOP police reform bill

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) told reporters Wednesday he plans to reintroduce his police reform bill or a similar proposal in the coming weeks and that he has discussed a potential compromise with Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

Why it matters: Eyes have again turned to Washington to take steps to address police reform in the wake of Derek Chauvin's guilty verdict Tuesday, after efforts stalled in Congress last year.

Biden announces small business tax credits for vaccine PTO

Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden on Wednesday called on all employers to provide workers paid time off to get vaccinated or recover from COVID side effects, and said he'll include a paid tax credit for small businesses that do so.

Why it matters: The Biden administration sees workplaces as highly influential in making shots more convenient for working adults who are in high-risk industries.

White House unveils plans for high-profile climate summit

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Biden administration offered new details this morning about the big, virtual climate summit Thursday and Friday and signaled they expect new emissions reduction and climate finance commitments from multiple countries.

Driving the news: The administration said 40 heads of state would attend, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil.