The delivery robot wars continue to heat up as the pandemic roils on under a fresh wave of cases. For technology developers, that means a new generation of robotic platforms built to capitalize on the growing recognition among major brands that autonomous delivery can increase efficiency and scale as more people dine at home more often. Nuro, a relative newcomer but already a leader in the space, just unveiled its third-generation zero-occupant autonomous delivery vehicle. Designed with delivery in mind, the new Nuro can carry more goods and enable more deliveries, with twice the cargo volume of the company's current vehicle. The automotive production-grade vehicle will also feature modular inserts to customize storage and new temperature-controlled compartments to keep goods warm or cool and safety enhancements to further improve safety for pedestrians outside the vehicle.
Nuro's newest model has a larger storage capacity than its previous models. Nuro announced its third generation autonomous delivery vehicle – called Nuro. Previous iterations of the vehicle were called R1 and R2. One of the most eye-catching features of the new vehicle is its external, front airbag. This airbag deploys if the vehicle collides with pedestrians and bikers, and is meant to keep those around the vehicle safe.
It seems counterintuitive, but robots may be a growing bright spot for American manufacturing. The latest example is an announcement by a leading autonomous delivery company that it will create two new facilities in southern Nevada as it moves to scale production of its latest autonomous delivery vehicle. Overall, the market for autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) and autonomous ground vehicles (AGVs) is forecasted to generate over $10bn by 2023 according to Interact Analysis, and that prediction relies on data from before the COVID-19 pandemic. Delivery robots in particualr are quickly coming of age as COVID lingers and touchless fulfillment becomes the norm. Sidestepping municipal red tape, enterprising companies like Starship Technologies have launched pilot programs in controlled access spaces, such as college campuses.
A driverless-vehicle startup has become the first company approved to make deliveries in in California using an autonomous vehicle. Mountain View, California-based Nuro says it plans to begin commercial service as early as next year. Nuro started testing its fleet on California roads in 2017 and, during the pandemic, has shuttled medical goods to a Sacramento field hospital. The permit, however, will allow the company to charge for its service. Founded by two former Google engineers, Nuro will first launch a fleet of autonomous Toyota Priuses, then introduce its own low-speed R2 vehicle.
By 2020, people thought the autonomous car would whisk you to the office while you read the paper and tackle your emails, then taking you home from the bar on a Friday evening. That remains lodged somewhere in the pipeline for now. But another slice of science fiction is on the way – robots that deliver your food -- and it's already knocking at the door. Robotic food delivery (or, increasingly, the delivery of anything that fits into a robot) is being tackled by a wide range of companies, from garage startups to retail giants. Many use six-wheeled robots designed to drive themselves along the sidewalk and the pathways of business parks and college campuses.