A new startup company has just unveiled a driverless vehicle that is designed to deliver groceries and goods at a local level.
On Tuesday, Nuro, a California-based startup founded by two former Google engineers, introduced a new driverless vehicle that may hit the road soon. The company has joined the ranks of Uber, Waymo, BMW and other tech giants and car manufacturers pushing for autonomous driving. However, Nuro’s prototype car was built for an entirely different reason.
Unlike its contemporaries, Nuro is focused on changing the landscape of delivery services rather than cars for personal use. Apparently, the company wants to automate the local delivery system in an effort to accommodate the increasing demand for last-mile deliveries.
According to Nuro, their car could boost local businesses who are struggling to compete with the likes of Amazon. They also claim that their companies could do this while also helping to reduce accidents on the road.Startup company #Nuro just unveiled its #driverless vehicle designed to deliver different goods.Click To Tweet
“We can use self-driving technology to deliver anything, anytime, anywhere for basically all local goods and services,” Dave Ferguson, Nuro co-founder, told CNN Tech. “Consumers used to be okay with two-week paid shipping. It became two-week free delivery, followed by one week, two days, and the same day. Now, same-day delivery isn’t fast enough for some customers.”
Meet Nuro’s Driverless Vehicle
Nuro’s driverless vehicle has no doors or windows. The only defining feature of the vehicles is a glass windshield that’s been installed to stop the car from scaring other drivers on the road. Nuro further said that its primary purpose is to help retailers and companies improve their businesses through its autonomous vehicle.
“We like to call it a local teleportation service,” Ferguson added.
The delivery car is said to weigh around 1,500 pounds. When it comes to measurement, the vehicle is nearly as large as a typical SUV. The company said each driverless vehicle would also have a modular interior that can be customized depending on the delivery products of the business.
For instance, grocery stores may equip the delivery vehicle with shelves and refrigeration to keep grocery items fresh. Dry cleaners may opt for hanging racks or just empty cargo bays with anchoring straps. It may also be used by restaurants and fast food chains for their food deliveries. Who knows? The self-driving pizza truck in Black Mirror’s Crocodile episode may turn into reality sooner than we expect.
While the idea sounds new, Nuro’s not the first company to introduce the concept of an autonomous delivery vehicle. Last summer, car manufacturer Ford reportedly began testing a self-driving pizza delivery with Domino’s. Last month in Las Vegas, Toyota also unveiled its delivery vehicle, e-Pallette, at CES 2018. The Japanese company also confirmed its partnership with Amazon and Pizza Hut for this project.
While the competition is tight for this newcomer, Nuro believes they will have fewer challenges because their driverless vehicle will not carry passengers. It’s also slower, which will make it relatively safer than its competitors. Later this year, Nuro plans to deploy a fleet of six self-driving vehicles to collect data and help the company optimize routes.
However, while the company has already received its permit from the California DMV, it still needs a sign-off from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration before it can fully operate in state-wide. As it stands, it is still illegal in many states to deploy unmanned or fully autonomous vehicles, but this is likely to change over the coming years.