By David Estrada, Chief Legal & Policy Officer at Nuro, www.nuro.ai
Today, we are proud to share that Nuro has become the first company to receive a permit to deploy autonomous vehicles on public streets from the California Department of Motor Vehicles. This permit will allow our vehicles to operate commercially on California roads in two counties near our headquarters in the Bay Area. Soon we will announce our first deployment in California with an established partner. The service will start with our fleet of Prius vehicles in fully autonomous mode, followed by our custom-designed electric R2 vehicles.
The California DMV has been working towards this milestone for nearly a decade. Since California adopted one of the first autonomous vehicle laws in the country in 2012, the DMV has steadily crafted a regulatory framework that last year included small delivery vehicles like Nuro’s. This framework set up a three-stage permitting process for companies to move from testing with a safety driver, to driverless testing, and now finally, to commercial deployment.
At every step, the DMV has reviewed the substantial record of data and information provided by AV companies, collected input from law enforcement, local communities, and stakeholders, and, as Director Steve Gordon has emphasized, kept to the touchstone that “the safety of the motoring public is the DMV’s top priority.”
Nuro’s journey has also been guided by this shared focus on safety, exemplified in our choice to design a custom, goods-only vehicle. R2 was purposefully engineered for safety, with a design that prioritizes what’s outside — the people with whom we share the roads — over what’s inside. We have extensively tested our self-driving technology and built a track record of safe operations over the past four years, including two successful commercial deployments in other states and driverless testing with R2 in the Bay Area communities where we plan to deploy.
As challenging as this year has been for all of us, 2020 has also been a year of important milestones for Nuro. In February, R2 became the first self-driving vehicle to obtain a USDOT exemption; in April, we became the second autonomous vehicle company to receive a driverless testing permit in California; and in October we announced that our R2 vehicles were being tested in three different states — with no drivers, no occupants, no chase cars.
R2 on the Road, YouTube, Nuro
And now, with this deployment permit we can bring a commercial autonomous delivery service to our friends and neighbors here in the Bay Area.
Driverless delivery will have a big impact for Californians in the coming years. Services like Nuro’s will provide contactless access to goods in our communities. A parent in Mountain View will be able to get the week’s groceries delivered, without bundling the family into the car. A grandmother in East Palo Alto will gain access to affordable home delivery of everyday necessities. And a young woman in San Jose will get the opportunity to start a new career overseeing the operation of a driverless fleet of vehicles that will deliver on these promises. We’re excited to see these benefits grow into the everyday lives of the people in our communities, in the places we also call home.
Featured Image: Nuro, R2 on the Road