Nuro is now the first company in California that’s allowed to operate autonomous cars commercially (via TechCrunch). The company received a permit that allowed it to test its robots earlier this year, but this permit will allow the firm to actually charge people for the service.
According to a Medium post by Nuro’s chief legal and policy officer, the company is planning to “announce [its] first deployment in California with an established partner.” Who that partner is remains to be seen, but it’s likely to be a delivery service that can make use of Nuro’s completely driverless Prius vehicles, though the company plans on (literally) rolling out its own custom R2 bots later on.
The permit, issued by the California DMV, only allows the company to operate its delivery service in parts of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, which would mean most of the Silicon Valley and its tech workers would be within its domain, but not San Francisco or Oakland.
There are some additional restrictions as well — the vehicles will only be allowed on surface streets with a speed limit of 35 miles an hour (and the bots are only allowed to go 25 mph), so don’t expect to see an driverless Prius zipping along the freeway to make a delivery anytime soon. The vehicles are also only allowed to drive in “fair weather conditions.”
The company was founded by two ex-Google engineers, and was, ironically, the only company besides Google’s Waymo to get a California permit allowing it to test driverless cars. Now, it’s beaten the other company to the punch in getting the ability to make a business out of it in the state. It’s a different story in Arizona, though, where Waymo is running a paid ride service with its driverless cars.