US DOT approves Nuro’s next-gen driverless delivery vehicle design

R2 will soon begin public road testing

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The US Department of Transportation (DOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today approved a regulatory exemption for a driverless vehicle.

Driverless vehicle developer Nuro today received a regulatory exemption for its next-generation self-driving delivery vehicle, R2.

As the first company to be granted approval for a self-driving vehicle exemption, it’s an important moment for Nuro and a milestone for the industry. Under Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao’s leadership, DOT is advancing a future of improved safety, mobility, and commerce.

The exemption allows Nuro to begin public road testing and to prepare for deliveries to customer’s homes.

The exemption gives Nuro some flexibility in the design of the vehicle. Nuro can replace mirrors with cameras and other sensors, round the edges of the vehicle so that it takes up less space and replace the windshield with an opaque panel.

Nuro will also be able to run the rearview cameras continuously, whereas in passenger vehicles they must be turned off when the vehicle is moving forward to avoid distracting human drivers.

As the company explains, “Federal vehicle standards were written for today’s passenger cars and trucks. But at Nuro, we’re building something entirely different: a zero-occupant vehicle.”

Following public road testing, Nuro plans to begin the first driverless deliveries to customers’ homes in Houston, Texas, where it already partners with Walmart and Domino’s. (The company has also partnered with Kroger in Arizona.)

While Nuro is grateful for the DOT and NHTSA exemption, the company says it hopes this will lead to new design regulations for zero-occupant delivery vehicles, so that companies can advance the technology without requiring exemptions.

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