The big names in autonomous vehicles likely won’t come from the auto industry. Tech and internet giants and startups alike are going all in on autonomous vehicles and racing to establish Silicon Valley as the new home for American automotive manufacturing. Technology firms from Apple to Google are investing in autonomous vehicle systems and are miles ahead of major automakers in some cases. One of the newest names on the autonomous vehicle market is Nuro, a California-based startup which is seeking to carve a niche for itself in the world of self-driving vehicles by going after a small, specific segment: small deliveries. Can robots do a better job than stoned teenagers at bringing me my pizza while it’s still hot?
Nuro began when two former Google engineers teamed up and left the search engine giant in 2016 to launch their own company. The startup unveiled its first vehicle this week, the Nuro R-1. The R-1 a small modular vehicle designed for small commercial deliveries which can be customized to deliver a variety of goods from groceries to pizzas to even dry cleaning. The vehicle stands about the same height as an SUV, but is about half the width. Full-length panels run down each side which can be opened to reveal the modular storage spaces inside.
Nuro co-founder Dave Ferguson told CNN Tech that unlike other autonomous vehicles, the R-1 will be creating jobs for humans rather than taking them away through introducing an entirely new market:
We can use self-driving technology to deliver anything, anytime, anywhere for basically all local goods and services. Same-day delivery isn’t fast enough for some customers. We feel by creating this new technology that’s going to enable this last mile delivery, we’re going to be creating new markets and doing things that previously weren’t possible. This is not swapping out jobs with robots. It’s creating new markets. There will definitely be new employment opportunities.
Sure, sure. New employment opportunities like guarding the human internment camps the robots eventually force us into. I wonder how many full-size humans can fit inside an R-1.