Nuro has received what it claims is the first permit granted by the state of California to test a self-driving vehicle on public roads that is not only driverless, but also passenger-less.
The permit allows Nuro to test its R2 vehicle in the Silicon Valley region to neighboring communities in cooperation with the DMV, local leaders and law enforcement. Previously, Nuro was testing its autonomous Prius vehicles with human operators in Mountain View, California, and its surrounding areas.
Due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for contactless delivery services has grown. The R2 can deliver goods to communities without a driver, allowing buyers to take groceries or hot food out of the cargo containers in the autonomous shuttle, minimizing contact between humans.
The second generation R2 is a zero-emission vehicle with an improved engine to extend the vehicle’s lifespan. The vehicle also includes additional cargo space to haul more goods and it is better equipped for city-wide driving. Nuro worked with Roush, a Michigan-based product development supplier, to design and assemble the vehicles to include a sensor array.
Nuro also started a pilot program this year for its R2 vehicles in Houston, Texas, after receiving approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Nuro said this is the first time a company received an exemption to test a vehicle without a driver and without passengers.
The first generation vehicles from Nuro were also used by Kroger to expand self-driving delivery service in the Houston area.
Nuro plans to begin its self-driving service for free to select customers in Mountain View and the surrounding area, eventually moving up to full statewide commercial deployment.