By Mike Murphy
Nuro Inc. is the first company approved to operate a driverless delivery business in California.
California’s Department of Motor Vehicles on Wednesday approved a license for Mountain View, Calif.–based Nuro to deploy its autonomous vehicles on public streets to make commercial deliveries.
“Issuing the first deployment permit is a significant milestone in the evolution of autonomous vehicles in California,” DMV director Steve Gordon said in a statement. “We will continue to keep the safety of the motoring public in mind as this technology develops.”
In a blog post , Nuro’s chief legal and policy officer, David Estrada, said, “We have extensively tested our self-driving technology and built a track record of safe operations over the past four years.”
Nuro said it will announce a delivery partner soon, and intends to deploy its fleet of modified Toyota Prius vehicles “in fully autonomous mode” in two southern Bay Area counties, followed by the rollout of its custom-designed R2 electric vehicles.
The R2 is a small, boxlike vehicle that can only go 25 mph, with no steering wheel inside and only room for packages. It will only be allowed to operate on certain streets and in fair weather conditions.
Nuro has been authorized to test autonomous vehicles with a safety driver inside since 2017, the DMV said, and in April was approved for fully driverless test rides.
“Driverless delivery will have a big impact for Californians in the coming years,” Estrada said in the blog post. “A parent in Mountain View will be able to get the week’s groceries delivered, without bundling the family into the car. A grandmother in East Palo Alto will gain access to affordable home delivery of everyday necessities. And a young woman in San Jose will get the opportunity to start a new career overseeing the operation of a driverless fleet of vehicles that will deliver on these promises.”
Nuro was founded in 2016 by former engineers from Google’s Waymo. It’s raised $1.5 billion in funding, according to Crunchbase, including $940 million from SoftBank’s /zigman2/quotes/207303954/delayed JP:9984 -1.48% Vision Fund.