Silicon Valley start-up Nuro has unveiled its R1 all-electric autonomous delivery vehicle, joining a growing list of start-ups and automakers developing self-driving delivery vehicles for commerce. Founded by two former Google engineers from its autonomous car division, Dave Ferguson and Jiajun Zhu chose goods delivery over the highly competitive self-driving ride-hailing services race because it was quicker to build up and market something that wasn’t as competitive.
On Tuesday, Nuro said it raised $92 million to launch its autonomous delivery vehicle. Its shape resembles a toaster and its size is half that of a passenger sedan. The Nuro is narrow and shorter than most delivery vehicles too, so it will be easy to maneuver in and around town safely as it interacts with pedestrians buying or picking up their purchases. This concept is quite similar to the self-driving Snap marketplace/passenger vehicle unveiled by Rinspeed. That company is also touting customization options for a mobile autonomous shopping kiosk. The Nuro R1 does not have seats for any passengers, and it is one-forth the size of the Rinspeed Snap. The Nuro is a low speed vehicle all-electric vehicle that will travel on city streets. Its main purpose being a delivery vehicle.
Ferguson believes these vehicles will be a “powerful” tool for local businesses to respond to ever changing shopping habits and the demands for more convenient and quicker service. The development took roughly 18 months to create, Nuro is now reaching out to both big and small retailers to partner up and bring their electric self-driving mobile delivery vehicle to the streets. However, as we have seen before, these self-driving delivery vehicles may hit stumbling blocks before becoming a common sight on city streets, such as Marble’s autonomous delivery being restricted by San Francisco city officials.
Image credits: Nuro