Author: Tronserve admin
Monday 26th July 2021 09:44 PM
Nuro Claims A Self-Driving First: U.S. Approval To Deploy Toaster-Styled Delivery Bots
Nuro, a self-driving tech startup created by two former Google engineers, says it’s the first company to win approval from U.S. regulators to test its battery-powered driverless delivery vehicles on public streets—little vans without steering wheels or pedals that resemble rolling robotic toasters.
Nuro said on Thursday that the National Traffic Safety Administration it received a waiver to use its low-speed R2s, which lack windshields and side mirrors and aren’t designed to carry human occupants, after a three-year process. The vehicles, designed to delivery groceries, food and other small packages, will be added to its test fleet of modified Toyota Priuses operating in Houston.
“Since this is a low-speed, self-driving delivery vehicle, certain features that the department traditionally required—such as mirrors and a windshield for vehicles carrying drivers—no longer make sense,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao.
The Mountain View, California-based startup, which has raised about $1 billion led by SoftBank, intends to tackle what it believes is a simpler problem than self-driving robo-taxis, on which Alphabet’s Waymo and GM-backed Cruise are working. While Nuro’s vehicles use similar AI-powered software, digital sensors, cameras and laser lidar applied to Waymo and Cruise vehicles, its low-speed vehicles are designed primarily for use in less complex suburban and residential neighbors and are about half the size of a standard passenger car.
“Our second-generation vehicle will advance our goal of transforming local commerce,” said Dave Ferguson, Nuro’s cofounder and president. He and his fellow cofounder, Jiajun “JZ” Zhu, created the company after working together for years at Google’s Self-Driving Car Project, which became Waymo in late 2016.
Nuro’s R2 is designed and built in a partnership with Roush Enterprises and has a 360-degree vision system for monitoring other vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists and road conditions. The company says R2’s front end is also designed to protect pedestrians as it will collapse inward in the event of a collision.
Last month Cruise showed off its Origin robo-taxi van, which similarly lacks a steering wheel, pedals and other conventional controls of human-driven vehicles.