Nuro, the driverless car delivery startup founded by two former Google engineers, has announced its expansion plans. The company said it will be spending at least $40 million on both the construction of a new manufacturing facility and then the test track for its fleet of driverless robot cars. Though not surprising, the two facilities will be located in Southern Nevada. This city has somehow become a hotspot for manufacturing and testing for the future of transportation in recent years.
As earlier mentioned, Nuro, presently valued at $5 billion, was founded by Dave Ferguson and Jiajun Zhu in 2016. They piloted the then Google’s self-driving car project that went on to become Waymo. Nuro, however, is one of the few companies operating fully driverless vehicles on public roads today. Its R2 vehicle model is about half of a compact sedan in width, shorter than most cars, and there is absolutely no space inside for human passengers or drivers.
The R2 is an upgrade of Nuro’s original R1 prototype and has around 50 percent more capacity. The company now hopes to begin the production of its third-generation vehicle at its Nevada facility once it begins full operations in the coming year.
According to Nuro, the new manufacturing facility will have 80 acres of property development and a 125,000-square-foot factory, which will have the capacity to build tens of thousands of delivery vehicles. Although the vehicle’s powertrain is to be built by BYD, a Chinese company that is one of the largest manufacturers of electric vehicles in the world, Nuro says all productions will be made in the U.S. All the software and digital infrastructure will be developed from servers based out of United States for safety and privacy, and security reasons.
Zhu, co-founder and CEO of NURO, said it was a very significant moment for the company. He spoke about building on the current momentum, which has given them the capability to build tens of thousands of robots as a direct implication of the strategic partnerships they have with industry leaders such as Domino’s, Kroger, FedEx, and others.
Though when compared with its rivals in the self-driving vehicle space, Nuro is still relatively unknown, however, Nuro has made clear progress on the regulatory front, becoming the very first company to receive a special exemption from certain federal safety requirements and recently getting the approval to charge money for its deliveries in California.