Nuro’s autonomous delivery robots, currently being used by Walmart, Kroger and Dominos, have been granted permission to begin testing on the roads for the first time in major milestone for the industry.
The new R2, the second generation of Nuro’s self-driving robot unveiled this week, has become the first vehicle to receive driverless exemption from the federal government.
“Since this is a low-speed self-driving delivery vehicle, certain features that the Department traditionally required — such as mirrors and windshield for vehicles carrying drivers — no longer make sense,” U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao stated.
This landmark exemption will allow the R2 to operate on the roads without these key safety features which are strictly required for passenger vehicles,
Although this exemption has already been three-years in the making for Nuro, it also comes with some major stipulations.
Nuro is required to submit reports on its AV driving system over the two-year exemption period and must give communities proper notice wherever it is being tested.
It will also be limited to 5000 deployed vehicles during the period.
There are conditions to this exemption. Nuro has the exemption for two years on a conditional basis and is required to submit reports on the AV driving system and provide proper notice to communities where the R2 will be deployed. The exemption allows Nuro to produce and deploy no more than 5,000 R2 vehicles during the two-year exemption period.
Nuro’s chief executive Dave Ferguson said: “Moving forward, we must modernize the existing regulations that never envisioned a vehicle without a driver or occupants, and everyone in the industry must work to ensure self-driving technology is tested and deployed in the safest possible vehicles”.
The new R2 vehicles are navigate using a combination of radar, lidar and cameras giving it a consistent 360-degree view of its surroundings, while sporting a narrower vehicle profile than its predecessor to provide additional room for cyclists.
In December Walmart became the latest major grocer to employ Nuro’s technology piloting an autonomous delivery programme in Houston, Texas.