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There will be a few more autonomous vehicles on the road… at least for a trial basis. Federal regulators have given the Nuro R2 the green light to start deliveries in Houston, Texas. The R2 will be carrying packages… not people.
Last week, The National Highway Traffic Safety Adminstration granted Nuro’s request for a temporary exemption from certain low-speed vehicle standard requirements. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao said, “Since this is a low-speed self-driving delivery vehicle, certain features that the Department traditionally required – such as mirrors and a windshield for vehicles carrying drivers – no longer make sense”.
This is Nuro’s second self-driving vehicle. The R1 was set up to work with Kroger in Scottsdale, Arizona in December 2018. The Nuro R2 is their second-generation. Naturally there are updates, like improved sensors, a temperature-controlled compartment to keep food fresh, and more hardware to handle inclement weather. The electric battery is nearly twice as large, so the company says the R2 can operate all day.
Nuro is working with Roush to produce the self-driving delivery vehicles. NHTSA has limited them to no more than 5,000 R2 vehicles during the two-year exemption period. During that time, NHTSA says they will closely watch how the Nuro R2 operates. The company says they’ll be on the street in the new few weeks.