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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

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Kellyanne Conway addresses the 2020 Republican National Convention. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

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Why it matters: If there's a currency in this town, it's power, so we've asked several former Washington power brokers to share their best advice as a new administration and new Congress settle in.

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GOP holdouts press on with plans to crush Cheney

Screenshot of emails to a member of Congress from individuals who signed an Americans for Limited Government petition against Rep. Liz Cheney. Photo obtained by Axios

Pro-Trump holdouts in the House are forging ahead with an uphill campaign to oust Rep. Liz Cheney as head of the chamber's Republican caucus even though Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told them to back down.

Why it matters: What happens next will be a test of McCarthy's party control and the sincerity of his opposition to the movement. Cheney (R-Wyo.) is seen as a potential leadership rival to the California Republican.

Democrats aim to punish House GOP for Capitol riot

Speaker Nancy Pelosi passes through a newly installed metal detector at the House floor entrance Thursday. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House Democrats plan to take advantage of corporate efforts to cut funding for Republicans who opposed certifying the 2020 election results, with a plan to target vulnerable members in the pivotal 2022 midterms for their role in the Jan. 6 violence.

Why it matters: It's unclear whether the Democrats' strategy will manifest itself in ads or earned media in the targeted races or just be a stunt to raise money for themselves. But the Capitol violence will be central to the party's messaging as it seeks to maintain its narrow majorities in Congress.