In the initial phase of development, Nuro has also trained the robot operators that monitor R1 to take control at any time
Unmanned, self-driving vehicles are being used to deliver groceries to residents in the US city of Scottsdale, Arizona. The deliveries are made by the autonomous R1 vehicle, developed by robotics and artificial intelligence specialists, Nuro.
The service follows a trial run with American grocery retailer, Kroger, in August using a fleet of self-driving Toyota Priuses in which around 1,000 grocery deliveries received best-in-class customer satisfaction ratings.
Nuro unveiled the custom-built self-driving vehicle, R1, in November after extensive private road tests. The company was founded in 2016 by Dave Ferguson and Jiajun Zhu who have devoted their careers to robotics and machine learning, most recently as principal engineers at Google’s self-driving car project (now Waymo).
Writing on Medium, Ferguson said the company was launched to accelerate the benefits of robotics for everyday life. “We wanted to tackle challenges that had an immediate impact on communities everywhere,” he said. “We realised that we could give back millions of hours of time to people if we built an inexpensive service that provided anything, anywhere, anytime.”
Before launching the pilot in Scottsdale, Nuro met with state and local leaders, a variety of regulatory agencies, local law enforcement and first responders, and community groups, to build a safe service that meets customer needs and meets all applicable regulations.
“We realised that we could give back millions of hours of time to people if we built an inexpensive service that provided anything, anywhere, anytime”
Nuro claims the R1 features “world-class” self-driving software and sensing hardware, redundancy across every critical driving system, and a lighter and nimbler footprint than a standard car. Ferguson explains that in the initial phase of the development, Nuro has thoroughly trained its robot operators who monitor R1 and are able to take control at any time. It explains how it has incorporated safety into each step of the development process at Delivering Safety: Nuro’s Approach.
Ferguson said that while this first unmanned service represents the culmination of many years of work, it also represents “another beginning”. “For this may be the first, but it will be followed by many more: more vehicles, more cities, and more services,” he said. “Together with others in the industry, we will usher in new ways to provide transportation, and more time, to everyone.”
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