Nuro, a start-up which makes autonomous delivery vehicles, announced Thursday that it's building a factory and a closed course test-track in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Funded by Softbank, Chipotle, Toyota's Woven Capital and others, Nuro says its two new commercial facilities will amount to 125,000 square feet of space across at least 80 acres of property, including 74 acres of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The start-up will invest $40 million into the facilities, and aims to generate 250 jobs in Southern Nevada initially.
Unlike other driverless vehicle ventures, Nuro is focused on making zero-occupant, robotic electric delivery vehicles that look more like a kitchen appliance than a traditional car. They are smaller than vans and most taxis, but can still operate on public roads rather than in bike lanes or on sidewalks.
While Nuro's driverless delivery service is not widely available yet, it is working in Houston, Greater Phoenix and Silicon Valley locations, according to the company's website.
Customers can place an order for delivery with one of Nuro's retail partners. When they check out, they can select a driverless vehicle option, and they'll receive updates in a mobile app as the Nuro vehicle finds its way. Upon arrival they get a last notification with an access code used to open the vehicle's compartment containing their ordered items.
A Nuro vehicle
In order to understand and navigate around a neighborhood, the company's current R2 vehicles employ cameras, light ranging and detection sensors (or lidar), and other short and long-range radar, and ultrasonic sensors.
Nuro plans to produce its new vehicle, the R3, at its forthcoming assembly plant in Nevada.
In their announcement on Thursday, Nuro lauded the state of Nevada for its support of the nascent, autonomous vehicle industry. Nevada was the first state to pass autonomous vehicle legislation in 2011 with their AB 511 which officially allowed for the operation of autonomous vehicles on highways within the state.