Self-driving startup Nuro is well-positioned to pursue its ambitions of autonomous delivery, having received a first-of-its-kind exemption from the US Department of Transport back in February. The company is building on this through a new partnership with CVS, which will see its driverless vehicles deliver prescription medicines to customers in Texas within three hours of purchase.
Nuro has spent the last couple of years testing out various versions of its autonomous delivery vehicles through tightly monitored trials with Walmart, Domino’s and supermarket retailer Kroger. The exemption it was awarded earlier this year was a significant one, because it was the first time US authorities have allowed testing on public roads of vehicles not at all designed to carry human passengers.
That means no need for seating, steering wheels and mirrors, and more space for cargo. The new partnership with CVS, which is also investigating deliveries by drone, will explore how the company’s autonomous vehicles can make fulfilling orders more efficient, beginning with three zip codes in Houston, Texas.
Customers begin by placing their order for prescription medication through the CVS app, where autonomous delivery will be available as an option. This will see one of Nuro’s autonomous Prius vehicles, which featured in its earlier grocery trials, drop the goods curbside at their home address for retrieval via confirmation of their identity within a few hours.
The autonomous deliveries will be free and while they will use Nuro’s fleet of modified autonomous Priuses to begin with, the company plans to soon incorporate its latest model, the custom-built, zero-occupant R2, into the operation. The service kicks off in June.
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