https://www.autoblog.com/2020/02/06/nur ... -approval/
Nuro gets green light to deploy 5,000 driverless delivery bots
NHTSA's first approval of an AV that doesn't meet all auto safety standards
In a first-of-its-kind approval by U.S. regulators, a federal agency on Thursday gave permission for autonomous vehicle startup Nuro Inc over the next two years to deploy up to 5,000 low-speed electric delivery vehicles without human controls like mirrors and steering wheels.
The rollout of the R2 vehicle will take place in Houston, with plans for it to deliver items like pizza and groceries. It is about half the width of a regular car, has no steering wheel or seating positions and boasts gull-wing cargo doors reminiscent of the time-traveling car in the "Back to the Future" films.
Nuro, a privately held robotics company based in Mountain View, California, said it will begin public road testing to prepare deliveries in Houston in the coming weeks. Nuro called the regulatory approval by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration "a milestone for the industry. . . ."
The agency's approval of Nuro's petition will allow the company to deploy the R2, a vehicle designed to have no human occupants and operate exclusively with an automated driving system, as part of a delivery service for restaurants, grocery stores and others. Walmart Inc and Domino's Pizza said last year they would launch pilot delivery projects with Nuro in Houston.
The R2, which Nuro describes as an "electric-powered delivery robot," is designed to make short trips and will be restricted to pre-mapped neighborhood streets. Nuro told NHTSA in its October 2018 petition that the R2 vehicles will at all times be monitored by remote human operators who can take over driving control if needed. . . .
NHTSA is requiring real-time reporting about safety issues, regular meetings with the agency and community engagement in deployment areas.