Autonomous food delivery revved a few miles forward today. Nuro, a company that makes self-driving vehicles for delivery, announced it is receiving the first-ever Autonomous Vehicle Deployment Permit from the California DMV. According to an email sent to The Spoon, this gives Nuro permission to launch a commercial autonomous vehicle service in California (which would be the first in the state).
In layman’s terms, that means Nuro can now delivery groceries, household items, and other goods to customers’ doorsteps via its own self-driving vehicles.
These pod-like vessels are roughly half the size of a regular car and completely autonomous. There isn’t even room for a human drive to sit in the vehicle, which travels at a max of 25 miles per hour.
Regulatory approval, or lack thereof, is one of the major factors inhibiting widespread adoption of self-driving vehicles for food and grocery delivery. State and local governments have to ensure public safety on roads, sidewalks, bridges, and other throughways before they can allow fleets of unmanned vehicles to be unleashed in cities and towns. That explains why some companies, including Starship and Kiwi, started on college campuses.
But Starship and Kiwi rover bots that are considerably smaller than Nuro’s R2 vehicle, which wouldn’t in all likelihood easily drive through the camps quad. The Autonomous Vehicle Deployment Permit means Nuro won’t have to resort to such locations in order to make its delivery services available to U.S. residents.
Nuro said in today’s email that it will start delivery service with existing partners in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties in the new year. Service will begin with the company’s autonomous Prius vehicles and eventually transition to the company’s “full fleet” of both Priuses and R2s.
Also this week, Nuro acquired autonomous trucking company Ike. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.