Nuro announced today that it has raised a $500 million Series C round of funding. The round was led by funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, with participation from new investors that include Fidelity Management & Research Company, and Baillie Gifford, as well as participation from existing investors SoftBank Vision Fund 1 and Greylock. This brings the total amount raised by Nuro to $1.5 billion.
Nuro makes pod-like, self-driving, low-speed cargo delivery vehicles. Nuro’s R2 vehicle is roughly half the size of a regular car, is autonomous (there is literally no place for a driver to sit) and travels at 25 mph.
But equally as important as its technology is Nuro’s work around getting regulatory approvals for deliveries. Self-driving vehicles are new, and all levels of government are coming to grips with how to regulate the concept to ensure safety on public streets. In February of this year, Nuro got approvals from the federal government to drive on public roads. This was followed up in April when the state of California gave Nuro the green light to run on its public roads.
At the end of October, Nuro revealed that it had been running fully autonomous tests, meaning no drivers and no chase cars, successfully over the previous few months in Houston, TX, Phoenix, AZ and Mountain View, CA. You can see a video of the R2 in action here:
Nuro’s technology is certainly coming to market at the right time. The global pandemic has more people staying at home and thereby ordering more restaurant meals and groceries for delivery. Nuro’s vehicle can carry a full load of groceries directly to a customer’s curbside around the clock. The autonomous nature of the Nuro also means that delivery is contactless, an important feature as people look to reduce human-to-human contact in order to stem the transmission of the virus.
Nuro isn’t alone in the autonomous last-mile delivery space. Other players range from the small cooler-sized robots of Starship to the larger three-wheeled REV-1 from Refraction to the cargo vans of Udelv.
In other words, autonomous delivery is coming, and Nuro now has more money to assert its place when it arrives.