A new AV has won approval by NHTSA for use on the public streets of Houston, Texas. The aim is home delivery of online shopping for between USD $5 and $10 per delivery, and with high vigilance on safety.
According to its designers—former employees of Waymo (Google’s AV project), the Nuro is a venture to extend the benefits of robotics to everyday life for the difficult last mile by facilitating delivery to traders, restaurateurs, and suchlike.
The AV—1.3 m wide, 2.7 m long, and 1.9 m high, can travel at 40 km/h with a payload of up to 190 kg (about 54 shopping bags).
Experiments are taking place with partner distributors in Texas such as Walmart, Domino’s Pizza, and the first Houston deliveries by Nuro were done for the Kroger supermarket chain.
The coronavirus will not slow down its deployment. On the contrary, the autonomous delivery startup obtained a recent exemption from the authorities as an “essential delivery service”. In total, the American startup—which raised $940m from SoftBank Vision Fund in 2019—have been authorised to run up to 5,000 autonomous vehicles on Texas roads.