California grants first autonomous vehicle deployment permit to Nuro for delivery service

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 25 Dec 2020


California-based Nuro, a robotics company that is working to transform local commerce through self-driving delivery, has received the first ever autonomous vehicle deployment permit from the state of California.

This will enable Nuro to launch the first commercial autonomous vehicle service in the state. The company says the regulatory approval is a significant achievement for the AV (autonomous vehicle) industry and is a meaningful step to bring commercial autonomous delivery to Californians, which will provide safety, economic, and environmental benefits to many people in the future.

Dave Ferguson, co-founder and president, Nuro said: “The California DMV is a leader in safety standards, and we appreciate their collaboration and safety-first approach to AV regulation. Since founding Nuro over four years ago, we’ve been working towards the day we could launch a delivery service in our home state. Now that we have the permit, we are thrilled to be able to do so, providing our fellow Californians a convenient and affordable way to access the food, beverages, prescription medicines, and other products they need.”

The company has been operating R2s (autonomous vehicles) on public roads in California under the testing permit issued by the CA DMV earlier this year. With this deployment permit, the company can begin making autonomous deliveries with new and existing retail partners. As with all past deployments, Nuro will begin its California delivery service with autonomous Priuses and later introduce R2, its autonomous delivery vehicle. In February 2020, the US Department of Transportation granted Nuro permission to operate R2 on public roads without certain equipment required for passenger vehicles, because R2 is custom-designed solely to carry goods with no driver and no passengers.

The company says in the four years since its inception it has led the AV industry through a number of firsts. In addition to being the first to secure an autonomous deployment permit in California and obtain USDOT approval for an autonomous vehicle, Nuro was the first to be granted a permit for a zero-occupant vehicle to test without a driver in California, and the first to test on public roads fully autonomously in three different states: California, Texas, and Arizona.

Over the past year, Nuro announced raising a $500 million (Rs 3,700 crore) Series C funding round, new partnerships, and now, the first-ever deployment permit. During the height of the pandemic, the company used R2 to provide contactless deliveries for Covid-19 patients and staff at medical care facilities in San Mateo and Sacramento, provided autonomous grocery delivery for food banks, and increased its grocery deliveries in Houston threefold from early March to early May.