Nuro, the autonomous vehicle maker focused on transporting goods rather than passengers, on Wednesday revealed its third-generation, fully electric driverless vehicle, simply called Nuro. The Mountain View, California-based company also announced that it will roll out the vehicle in Houston as part of an expansion of its partnership with nationwide grocer Kroger, with plans to scale its autonomous delivery service to millions of Americans nationwide.
“With the introduction of our new flagship model and the groundbreaking of our new production facility — one of the industry’s first end-of-line manufacturing facilities in America — we are excited about the opportunity to fulfill our vision of improving everyday life through autonomous delivery at scale,” said Nuro co-founder and President Dave Ferguson.
Nuro’s third-generation vehicle is designed to carry more goods and handle more deliveries, boasting double the cargo volume of its second-generation vehicle, the R2, introduced in February 2020. The new flagship model will also contain “modular inserts to customize storage,” as well as temperature-controlled compartments that can keep goods warm or cool in transit.
Watch: Surveying the driverless landscape
The third-generation vehicle also comes equipped with enhanced safety features, including an external airbag in the case of unintended interactions with people on the road and an array of cameras, radars, lidar and thermal sensors that give the vehicle a 360-degree view of its surroundings.
Hoping to scale the new model, Nuro will produce its third-generation autonomous delivery vessel in partnership with BYD North America out of its end-of-line manufacturing facility and closed-course test track in southern Nevada, which has the capacity to build and test tens of thousands of vehicles per year. BYD North America, part of one of the world’s largest original equipment manufacturer (OEM) networks for EVs, will globally source the vehicles’ hardware components and leave the final manufacturing steps to Nuro.
“BYD attaches great importance to this collaboration with Nuro. As one of the world’s leading electric vehicle manufacturers and a turnkey solution provider, BYD will leverage the manufacturing capacity of its Lancaster facility to support Nuro and bring more jobs to California,” said Stella Li, executive vice president of BYD Co. Ltd. and president of BYD Motors Inc. “We are confident the development of this transformative autonomous delivery vehicle will create a better environment for us all.”
Construction of Nuro’s southern Nevada facility began in November and is expected to be completed this year, with plans to begin manufacturing shortly thereafter.
But not only is Nuro expanding its production — it’s expanding its partnerships too. In 2021 alone, Nuro partnered with several top brands, including FedEx (NYSE: FDX), Chipotle (NYSE: CMG), Domino’s (NYSE: DPZ) and 7-Eleven, to get its driverless vehicles out on the road.
“Five years ago, we set out to build an autonomous vehicle and delivery service designed to run errands, giving people back valuable time. Through our strategic partnerships … we are doing just that — improving road safety, sustainability and overall access to goods delivery,” said Ferguson.
But this week, the AV maker is expanding one of its longest-standing partnerships.
In 2018, Nuro and Kroger (NYSE: KR) entered into a partnership to deliver groceries with Nuro’s all-electric autonomous fleet, and over three years later, the companies have announced that Kroger will begin rolling out Nuro’s third-generation vehicle in the Houston market.
“Our expanded collaboration with Nuro supports Kroger’s commitment to provide fresh food, at a great value — all without asking our customers to compromise,” said Yael Cosset, Kroger’s senior vice president and chief information officer. “The role of autonomous vehicles in our seamless ecosystem continues to increase, contributing to meeting our customers in the context of their day without compromising on the quality or value, while contributing to our long-term growth and sustainability goals.”
Sustainability is on the agenda for Nuro as well. For the first time, starting this month, the driverless vehicle maker said it will use 100% renewable energy for all of its vehicle-charging stations and facilities. Nuro this week also released the company’s first sustainability highlights report, which summarizes its ESG efforts thus far and charts future plans.
Improving its driverless technology is also top of mind for Nuro. In November, the company received a massive boost on that front in the form of a $600 million financing round led by Tiger Global Management, with participation from Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL). In addition to directing much of that funding toward research and development, Nuro also announced that it would enter a five-year partnership with Google Cloud to improve its vehicles’ machine-learning capabilities.
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