Almost three years after revealing its autonomous delivery vehicle, robotics startup Nuro has been given the green light for commercial operations in California. Initially, service needs will be met by fully autonomous Prius vehicles, but the R2 delivery pods won’t be far behind.
The deployment permit issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles rubber stamps Nuro’s autonomous vehicles to roll on public roads in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, where the company has already been testing its self-driving vehicles – first with a support driver, then without.
The permit limits the service to designated areas in cities like East Palo Alto, Mountain View, Sunnyvale and Woodside, and they’ll only be allowed on streets where the speed limit is 35 mph or under. And even then, the vehicles won’t be able to exceed 25 mph (40 km/h).
More importantly for Nuro, it means that the company can now “charge a fee and receive compensation for its driverless delivery service.” And a blog post by the firm’s Chief Legal and Policy Officer, David Estrada, confirmed that news of the first deployment with an established partner will be announced soon.
It’s been a busy week for Nuro so far, with autonomous trucking startup Ike announcing that it has recently been acquired by the self-driving company it once shared an office with.
“After years of hard work to fulfill the promise of automated vehicles, we expect 2021 to be an important moment for Nuro and for the world,” reads Ike’s press statement. “We are thrilled to start this next chapter of Ike’s journey and help deliver on a shared mission, together.”