03 Feb 2018
US start-up builds driverless car for home deliveries
US-based start-up Nuro is developing self-driving cars for home deliveries.
Founded by two former Google engineers, the company has built a driverless car prototype that can successfully complete low-speed and last-mile deliveries.
By automating services like grocery and food deliveries, the start-up looks beyond autonomous cab services and aims at supporting local businesses that are struggling in the age of online shopping.
The car doesn't have steering wheels, driver's seat
Nuro's driverless car looks like a small box on wheels, which is half the width of a standard sedan.
Designed to deliver goods from a local business to a customer, it features a pin pad for user interaction and a sensor array on the roof that includes radar, LiDAR, and optical cameras.
It does not have steering wheels, gear shifts, or a driver's seat.
The car's short width can help avoid accidents
Co-founder Dave Ferguson said that the width of the vehicle was designed to avoid accidents.
"If someone pops out between two parked cars and it's within your stopping distance, you can't prevent that accident. Whereas if you have a vehicle that's half the width, and you've got an extra three or four feet of clearance," he said.
Customers will have to retrieve items from the car themselves
Nuro's business model is yet to be worked out.
There will be no driver to ring the doorbell for delivering goods, so the company envisions using an app through which it will inform customers of the vehicle's arrival.
Further, they would be able to retrieve their items only after entering a unique code on the pin pad, or through facial recognition technology.
Nuro is looking to partner with local retailers
Nuro has so far raised $92 million in funding, which was led by venture-capital firms like Greylock Partners and Banyan Capital. The company is already looking for possible partnerships with retailers and delivery service providers.