Silicon Valley start-up Nuro said on Tuesday it raised $92 million to launch a self-driving delivery vehicle, joining automakers, shippers and a host of little-known companies developing autonomous vehicles for local commerce.
The company, co-founded by two former engineers from Google’s self-driving car project, Dave Ferguson and Jiajun Zhu, opted to bypass the high-profile race for self-driving taxis to focus on goods delivery, which it says is easier to solve and will be quicker to market.
At about half the width of a traditional passenger sedan, Nuro’s vehicle, shaped like a tiny minivan, takes up less room on the road than traditional cars. The company says this makes it safer on roads when interacting with pedestrians picking up their purchases.
Compartments built into its sides can hold about 10 shopping bags and can be configured to accommodate custom inserts such as lockers, heating or cooling elements or even a dry-cleaning rack.