Listen to this article
Nuro has laid off seven employees in Houston and Mountain View, California and three more at its Phoenix offices. The company has raised $2.1 billion in funding since its founding in 2016.
A Nuro spokesperson told The Robot Report, “As part of our ongoing business strategy development, we closed four positions in Houston and three positions in Mountain View, and offered severance packages to the seven people affected by the change.
“We also adjusted our focus in Arizona to concentrate more on tele-operations. As part of this move, we are winding down our Phoenix Depot operations. Of the employees impacted in Phoenix, three have opted for severance, two are helping close down our Phoenix Depot and the rest will be joining our tele-operations team in Tempe, Arizona. No teams outside of Operations have been impacted and we continue to stay focused on our business priorities.”
A source told The Robot Report that the company is struggling to progress in Houston, adding that it’s way behind schedule on multiple projects.
Nuro first set its sights on Houston in 2018, when it announced a partnership with Kroger for autonomous grocery deliveries in the city as well as in Phoenix. Following the announcement, Nuro established partnerships with Domino’s and Walmart in 2019. In 2021, Nuro announced that it would be teaming up with FedEx to pilot Nuro’s parcel delivery capabilities.
In December 2021, Nuro launched its autonomous delivery service in California. Nuro started delivering from 7-Eleven with its self-driving Prius’, which operate autonomously but have a human safety driver behind the driver’s seat. The company planned to eventually deliver with its R2 delivery vehicles.
At the beginning of this year, Nuro announced that it would be expanding its partnership with Kroger and that it would release the latest generation of Nuro delivery vehicles simply called ‘Nuro’.
The latest generation of Nuro’s delivery vehicles, which were always specifically designed to transport goods, comes with a number of new features, including an external airbag. The vehicles are about 20% narrower than the average car, and can operate at a max speed of 45 mph. Nuros can carry a total of 500 lbs in its temperature controlled compartments.
Nuro’s vehicles are battery-electric and emission free. The company uses 100% renewable energy from wind farms in Texas to power its fleet.
Nuro’s reported layoffs follow a string of other industry layoffs within the last few weeks. Argo AI, another company developing autonomous vehicles, announced it’s laying off 150 employees and shutting down its operation in Washington, DC.
Starship Technologies, a sidewalk delivery robot company, also recently laid off 11% of its workforce. The outdoor robot delivery market has become quite crowded for companies like Starship and Nuro. Other sidewalk delivery companies, like Coco, Kiwibot, Serve Robotics and Synkar, have cropped up in recent years. As well as heavier payload companies, like White Rhino.
Starship said it had been negatively impacted by the “dramatic downward shifts” in the global economy and investment market.
Downward shifts in the global investment market, particularly in China, were also cited for the reported layoffs at Pudu Robotics, a Chinese developer of commercial service robots.
Additionally, DoorDash announced it was closing Chowbotics just 18 months after acquiring the business. Chowbotics was apart of DoorDash’s robotics division, DoorDash Labs, which is still in operation.