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Nuro and Waymo are launching two of the first ever autonomous delivery services in California. Nuro’s self-driving delivery service launched today, and Waymo plans to launch its self-driving grocery delivery service in early 2022.
Nuro is starting deliveries with its self-driving Prius’, which will operate autonomously but have a human safety driver behind the driver’s seat just in case. The company plans to eventually deliver with its R2 delivery vehicles.
Right now, in Mountain View, California, anyone can order from the 7-Eleven 7NOW app and have their food delivered by Nuro’s vehicles between 8:00 AM and 9:00 PM. Orders will typically be delivered within 30 minutes of ordering, and those who order will receive updates through the 7NOW app.
“Residents in the state of California – a major hub of innovation – have never been able to experience the commercial delivery of goods by an autonomous vehicle. Nuro is teaming up with 7-Eleven to change that,” said Jiajun Zhu, Nuro CEO and co-founder. “We’ve always wanted to bring Nuro’s autonomous delivery to our local community and to our neighbors. We couldn’t be more excited to do this with an iconic neighborhood store like 7-Eleven in our hometown, Mountain View.”
Nuro’s R2 vehicles are made specifically for delivering goods. The vehicles have no driver’s seat or passenger seats. In February 2020, Nuro became the first autonomous vehicle developer to be given exemptions by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for testing on public roads without the need to have controls for human operators.
Waymo is partnering with Albertsons for its grocery delivery service, which will launch in San Francisco. Waymo is already testing its robotaxis in San Francisco and is now expanding to food delivery. Initially, Waymo’s delivery service will be limited to only Waymo and Safeway employees, but will be opened up to other customers later. Safeway is owned by Albertsons.
Nuro became the first company to receive an autonomous vehicle deployment permit from the California DMV in December 2020. Since then, two other autonomous vehicle companies, Cruise and Waymo, have also received the permit, with some limitations.
Cruise and Waymo both operate robotaxi services. Cruise is currently offering fully autonomous taxi rides to its employees in San Francisco, while Waymo’s cars still require a safety driver to operate on the road.
Nuro operates its vehicles in Arizona, California and Texas. Nuro began delivering Domino’s pizzas in Houston in April 2021. Nuro also works with Kroger in Phoenix and Houston. In June 2021, Nuro partnered with FedEx to test multi-stop and appointment-based autonomous delivery in Houston.
In November 2021, Nuro brought in $600 million in Series D funding. Since its founding in 2016, the company has raised a total of $2.1 billion in funding.