Nuro can now operate and charge for autonomous delivery services in California – TechCrunch

Autonomous delivery startup Nuro Commercial driverless services are allowed to begin on California’s public roads – the first company to overcome this barrier – after obtaining a permit from the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

Neuro, founded in June 2016 by Google alums Dave ferguson And Jiajun Zhu, plans to start commercial distribution operations early next year. The so-called Autonomous Vehicle Deployment Permit would allow Neuro to operate commercial services – meaning it could charge for deliveries – in the San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. Neuro’s Chief Legal and Policy Officer David Estrada said it aims to start with an autonomous Toyota Prius vehicles in a city and a partner in early 2021. The company will eventually transition to its purpose-built R2 delivery bots for its commercial service as well as adding more partners and expanding geographically.

While Neuro will not name a partner or city, it is worth noting that the company is headquartered in Mountain View and has previously expressed a desire to begin operations closer to its main office.

“Issuing the first deployment permit is an important milestone in the development of autonomous vehicles in California,” DMV Director Steve Gordon said in a press release issued Wednesday. “We will continue to take motoring safety into consideration as this technology develops.”

Deployment permits Nurro to use a fleet of light-duty driverless vehicles for a commercial delivery service on surface roads within designated parts of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, including Atherton, East Palto Alto, Includes the city of Los Altos Hills. Los Altos, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Sunnyvale and Woodside according to DMV. The vehicles have a maximum speed of 25 mph and are only approved to operate in fair weather conditions on roads with a speed limit in excess of 35 mph.

The announcement marks a milestone year for Neuro, which announced earlier Wednesday that it had acquired self-driving truck startup Ike. Neuro also raised another $ 500 million, which raised its post-money valuation to $ 5 billion, and won some major state and federal regulatory wins.

Neuro has followed a long and winding path to secure deployment permits. In 2017, the California DMV, the agency that regulates autonomous vehicles in the state, issued a neuro AV test permit, requiring the company to have a human back-up driver behind the wheel. Initially, the company used modified Toyota Prius sedans for testing as well as pilot grocery deliveries in Arizona and Texas.

company Transitioned in december 2018 For the R1, the first step towards a vehicle designed specifically for the package. Its second-generation vehicle, called R2, was introduced in February 2020. The R2, which was designed and assembled in the US in partnership with Michigan-based Roush Enterprises, is equipped with LIDAR, radar and cameras to deliver “drivers”. 360 degree view of its surroundings. Significantly, received neuro Driverless discount From NHTSA for its R2 vehicle. The exemption allows the vehicle to operate, even if it does not have a side-view mirror, windshield, and rear-view camera that turns off while driving forward.

In April 2020 Nuro received a permit from the CA DMV to test driverless vehicles, which meant that he could eventually put his R2 delivery bot on public roads. While dozens of companies have an active permit with CA DMV to test autonomous vehicles with Human Safety Driver, AutoX, Cruise, Neuro Waymo And Zoox Huh Only companies allowed To test driverless vehicles on California’s public roads.

Still, Neuro was not able to charge for delivery, until he got permission for the deployment that was released on Wednesday.

Neuro has a slightly cleaner path to commercial operations than autonomous vehicle companies targeting shuttle people in roboto-type operations. Commercial ride services using driverless vehicles also have to secure a permit from the California Public Utilities Commission to be able to shuttle passengers. Another additional permit is required by the CPU to charge for the ride.

Permission to charge for the ride was not even possible until last month. The CPU approved two new programs in November to allow and charge for shared rides in autonomous vehicles. The automated vehicle technology industry lobbied the CPCB for months to consider a rule change that would allow operators to charge fares and offer shared rides in driverless vehicles. While the decision was widely appeased, some in the industry have warned that the approval process could further delay commercial robotxi operations.

Potential robotaxi operators must meet multiple reporting requirements, along with obtaining appropriate permits from the CPUC and the California DMV. Participating companies are also required to submit a safety plan and quarterly report to the CPUC, containing information and anonymous information about pickup and drop-off locations for individual trips, availability and quantity of wheelchair accessible rides, disadvantaged communities Service levels and data supply for such as fuel type used by vehicles, miles traveled and passenger miles traveled.