- Nuro, a startup working on an autonomous delivery vehicle, sent its voluntary safety report to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), becoming the fourth company to do so.
- The 33-page report says that delivery "can be scaled sooner and more affordably, than self-driving passenger transportation." Because the Nuro cars are not transporting passengers, they are "lighter, nimbler, and slower" than other autonomous vehicles and "equipped with state-of-the-art software and sensing capabilities that never get distracted,” according to the report.
- A Nuro spokesman told The Verge that the company wanted to get its report out before it started road testing a prototype of the delivery vehicle, known internally as R1.
Nuro, founded by two former Google engineers, says its delivery vehicle can handle anything from groceries to dry cleaning to prescription drugs. According to data from the National Household Travel Survey, 20% of trips taken by Americans are for shopping and 23% are for "other errands," the two areas Nuro is hoping to target.
The firm’s boxy car is thinner than a sedan, and the safety report says it will top out at 25 miles per hour, making it safer for interactions with pedestrians, cyclists and other cars (the vehicle could also move slower in more crowded areas). The report also says that in "certain complex situations," like a partial road closure or an accident, a safety driver or remote operator could intervene with the car’s self-driving system.
Nuro is just the fourth AV maker to release its voluntary safety self assessment, requested of all companies working on AVs by the Obama and Trump administrations. General Motors, Ford and Waymo, the offshoot of Google, are the others. The Detroit News reported last week that safety advocates have criticized the scant reports, and automakers would not commit to the newspaper on a timeframe for submitting outstanding reports.
The reports generally do not contain ground-breaking information or detailed test results. (Ford’s report, for example, acknowledged that the company is behind others in testing and executing a self-driving car). Bills in Congress crafting regulations of self-driving cars would require companies to submit their reports under deadline, but the overall package has stalled in the Senate. Whether more companies will voluntarily submit their reports remains to be seen, but it could offer a beacon to a public still on the fence about confidence in the new technology.