Arizona to Become Testing Grounds For Nuro's Autonomous Delivery Cars

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【Summary】California-based Nuro has confirmed plans to bring its self-driving delivery vehicles to Arizona, as it looks to get some public miles under its belt.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Jun 16, 2018 9:00 AM PT
Arizona to Become Testing Grounds For Nuro's Autonomous Delivery Cars

Autonomous vehicles will do more than just take passengers from one location to another in the future. They'll take businesses on the go, allowing companies to bring clothes, food, and other items to consumers' driveways. Ford has already started to look into the idea of using driverless vehicles as delivery cars by partnering with Domino's Pizza. It looks like Ford isn't alone in exploring a driverless delivery machine. 

Earlier this year, Nuro, a startup out of Silicon Valley, unveiled its autonomous delivery van. The vehicle took approximately 18 months to develop and is unlike any other driverless vehicle on the road. It doesn't have any windows or doors and looks similar to a toaster on wheels. 

Built With Deliveries In Mind

But there's a good reason for Nuro's design – the car is specifically made for making deliveries. Forget about making an autonomous replacement that can be used for ride- and car-sharing, Nuro is targeting retailers that need to deliver packages, like Amazon. 

"We realized we could make it possible to deliver anything, anytime, anywhere," said co-founder Dave Ferguson, reported Bloomberg earlier this year. "We like to call it a local teleportation service." 

The compact autonomous pod only tips the scale at 1,500 pods. The majority of the weight comes from its electric motor and battery pack. While it's the same length and height of a modern SUV, it's much smaller in width, measuring in at 3.5 feet wide. The exterior of the Nuro may be unlike anything else we've seen before, but the interior is just as intriguing and promises to offer companies with a large level of customization. 

The customizable interior is capable of holding up to 250 lbs. of cargo and can be outfitted with various components depending on what type of items you want to deliver. As Bloomberg states, grocery stores can fit the machine with shelves and a refrigerator. For dry-cleaners, there's the ability to add multiple hanging racks. The possibilities are nearly endless. "We spent a bunch of time doing ergonomic experiments," said Ferguson. 

There are absolutely no seats on the inside or room for any humans – it's all about packages. The vehicle doesn't even have a driver's seat, as it features the necessary hardware and software to drive on its own. Just like other autonomous vehicles on the road, Nuro's small van comes with a full suite of radar, cameras, and LiDAR. 

Nuro Autonomous Vehicle 2.jpg

Real-World Testing Is Next On The List

Now that Nuro's self-driving vehicle has been out for a while, the company is looking to test it in the real world. Naturally, as the Phoenix New Times reports, after months of searching, the company has settled on Arizona as the place to complete its testing. 

As the outlet points out, Arizona has been a popular site for automakers and companies looking to get real-world miles. Before the incident involving one of Uber's self-driving Volvo XC90 SUVs and a pedestrian, Arizona welcomed self-driving vehicles with open arms. With its friendly legislation, warm temperatures, and private roads, Arizona is a great place to get some testing done. 

According to the outlet, Ferguson signed a registration letter to the state Department of Transportation last month, confirming the company's plans to begin testing its self-driving machine on public roads. Companies that want to test autonomous vehicles in Arizona have to register with the state within 60 days as per a new executive order put into place by Governor Doug Ducey. 

Individuals in Arizona are used to seeing autonomous vehicles on the road, as Uber, Waymo, Intel, and others have all tested their vehicles in the state. If Nuro starts to test its driverless car on the road, it will be interesting to see how the public responds to the vehicle, especially in light of recent accidents. 

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