Autonomous delivery vehicle maker Nuro this week received California’s first permit to test a driverless, passengerless car on public roads. Eager to get started, the company hopes to get its recently unveiled R2 vehicle on the move through Silicon Valley “soon.”
“California is Nuro’s home, and we are excited to bring our neighborhood-friendly R2 vehicle into our communities, in close cooperation with the DMV, local leaders, and law enforcement,” David Estrada, the firm’s chief legal and policy officer, wrote in a blog announcement.
Following a trial run of its autonomous Priuses (which, in compliance with state guidelines, were monitored by human operators), Nuro is taking the next step with truly driverless R2 vehicles—starting in Santa Clara and San Mateo before expanding into other parts of the Bay Area.
“Community education and engagement is a critical part of the DMV’s permitting process,” Estrada explained. So, over the coming weeks and months, the company is partnering with Mountain View law enforcement and first responders for various activities, “to ensure that our community leaders are fully trained on how to interact with our vehicles on public roads, particularly in cases of emergency,” he said.
The new certification also means that Nuro can initiate its plan to make free deliveries with local retail partners. Moving forward, the organization must apply for a statewide commercial deployment permit to serve people across California.
“We have always believed in the transformative power of autonomous vehicles, and in the climate of COVID-19 we understand their potential even more deeply,” Estrada wrote. “Putting our driverless R2 delivery vehicles on the road in California will be an important first for our company and the self-driving industry. But it is just a glimmer of what is to come.”