R2! Deliver All Grocery Bags On The Detention Level!
As technology moves forward so does new technology for self driving cars. When Tesla introduced their automatic mode on the Tesla car and the newer ones to come it was certainly a huge technological advancement for transportation. But now there’s a new startup company named Nuro with a self driving car that doesn’t even have a steering wheel!
Nuro, which is a company that started in Mountain View, California, began releasing about 5,000 of these self driving vehicles onto the public. The autonomous vehicles, named R2, will be mainly used to deliver cargo and groceries since they are still testing the vehicle and are not ready yet for transporting people. The R2 is unmanned, does not have a steering wheel, and has compartments on the sides to carry various cargo. These cars will deploy in Houston, Texas and will cover up to 6 different residential areas, delivering Domino’s Pizza. In addition, Nuro announced a partnership with Walmart to begin transporting and delivering groceries sometime this year.
Given that this vehicle is not carrying any human passenger, many of the regulations and laws that would be applied to other car manufacturing companies do not apply to the R2 vehicle. For example, in order for a car to be accepted into the public and be approved by the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, the vehicle must contain mirrors and windshields, to assist the driver and protect the passengers, respectively. But since the R2 unit… I mean, car… isn’t carrying any passengers, then these rules and regulations don’t apply to the car. Also, the R2 is classified as a low-speed vehicle, which also bypasses other regulations that normal cars and SUVs have to meet. (Low speed means they can’t go faster than 25 mile per hour and must not weigh more than 2,500 pounds.)
Many people would worry about the vehicle becoming out of control or an accident to occur. But Nuro’s initial plan is to have the R2 car to be followed by a human driver to monitor and intervene if it is necessary. So far, Nuro only plans to release the cars in Houston only just to see how things go. Right now the company is working on their newer series, the R3, but have not yet announced when it will be released.
Unlike other self driving car companies, Nuro’s R2 focuses only on transporting goods rather than people. This makes it easier for determining whether or not its allowed to have it be on the streets. There would be many safety and ethical questions if the R2 were to be carrying humans, such as whether a pedestrian or passenger should have priority in an accident.
Perhaps this new vehicle will be the next step up in online purchasing, such as Amazon or Uber Eats. Let’s hope their testing really works out to have many of these units in the rest of the country and not have Houston the ONLY city in America with the goods!