Nuro, the brainchild of Jiajun Zhu and Dave Ferguson, two former Google engineers, will begin its first pilot program in Houston, Texas. The robotics and autonomous delivery vehicles company will deploy its R2 prototype cars in this non-forgiving urban environment, trying to deliver Walmart shopping bags to the chain’s customers. Of course, this will only concern a selected few who have rolled themselves to participate in the pilot program.
Nuro is one of the rare cases of companies feeling comfortable enough to not to have a “fail-safe” driver behind the wheel. Until now, they have been testing the delivery of groceries by using a small fleet of autonomous Toyota Prius vehicles, but the time to test the R2 has come. R2 is significantly shorter and narrower than the Prius, and was specifically designed for delivering goods so it honestly looks like a lunchbox or a big container with wheels.
If all goes well, Nuro will expand the fleet to cover more Walmart clients by the end of 2020. Similarly, they are looking forward to deploying their cars in California and Arizona, although their fleet of 75 cars is still only large enough for testing programs. In the upcoming tests, Nuro will employ drivers to follow the R2 vehicles and ensure that the delivery of the goods is being done in accordance with the requirements.
Nuro’s focus on the delivery of foods and shopping bags, has done them great business service, as it is enabling them to overcome the humongous obstacles that underpin self-driving vehicle technology.