11 Dec 19

Nuro does driverless delivery for Walmart

In the coming months, Walmart customers in Houston may get their online grocery shopping delivered by driverless vehicles operated by Nuro. 

The self-driving startup is one of the few companies to operate fully driverless vehicles on public roads, i.e. without even a human ‘safety driver’ ready to take the wheel in case of emergency. 

In March, Nuro started a pilot programme in Houston, delivering groceries with a fleet of autonomous Toyota Prius cars. With the expansion of that programme to include participating Walmart customers, Nuro will roll out its custom-made R2 prototype vehicles to share the workload. Nuro expects its pilot to expand to the general public by late 2020. 

The lunchbox-shaped R2 (pictured) is shorter than most cars and about half as wide. It has no room for a human driver. Nuro’s fleet – including pilots with safety drivers in California, Arizona and elsewhere in Texas – currently stands at 75 vehicles, mainly Priuses. 

Founded in 2016 by two former Google engineers, Nuro has always focused its autonomous driving efforts on food delivery rather than transporting people. This year it received a $1 billion investment from Japanese tech company Softbank. 

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Authored by: Frank Jacobs