The autonomous delivery specialist has just introduced the third version of its self-driving pod.
The new electric vehicle comes with an updated suite of navigation cameras, radar, lidar and thermal cameras to provide more space for customer orders, customizable compartments for a variety of goods and to equip the pod with a detailed view of its immediate environment. Is.
For the first time, it features an external airbag to protect any distracted walkers and wayward cyclists who inadvertently stray into the path of the pod. An image (below) released by the California-based company shows the airbags fully inflated, covering the entire front of the driverless pod.
The company said it is also the first Nuro Pod that can be commercialized on a large scale.
Unlike the self-driving cars being tested by Waymo and others, Nuro’s custom-built vehicles are specifically designed to carry luggage, with no room for passengers or a safety driver. In fact, it doesn’t even have a steering wheel.
Such a design gives the Nuro’s vehicle a footprint that is 20% smaller than the average passenger car, allowing it to take up a minimal amount of road space.
Nuro is testing the first iterations of its vehicle on public roads in three states and has partnered with Kroger, FedEx, Domino’s and CVS Pharmacy.
Select customers can place orders with a local business such as a grocery store or pizza restaurant using Nuro’s smartphone app. When the autonomous vehicle carrying the order reaches its destination address, the customer receives an alert on their phone. Then they pop out and simply tap in a code on the vehicle’s touchscreen to unlock the compartment containing their order.
In addition to further testing in real-world conditions, Nuro will also test its new pod on a closed test track being built in Nevada, where it will also manufacture the new pod.
Commenting on the new design, Nuro said: “This is the vehicle we will mass-produce for better everyday lives for millions of people, and we can’t wait to be on the road right outside your front door.” Can.”
Nuro was co-founded six years ago by Dave Ferguson and Jiajun Zhu, both men who gained valuable experience from their time with Google’s autonomous-car unit (now Waymo) when it was just getting started.
While the company’s technology and vision have inspired investment from an array of major firms, including Google and SoftBank, Nuro’s success is dependent on building stable partnerships with businesses that want to use their vehicles for last-mile deliveries. , as well as regulators that will need to flag off Autonomous Pod before the platform can honestly roll out.
It also has to beat competition from other grocery delivery services – autonomous or not – which is no easy feat in such a highly competitive market.