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Nuro Becomes First Driverless Car Delivery Service in California

A California robotaxi startup has won the state’s first-ever approval to make deliveries in an autonomous vehicle.

Nuro Inc., which has been testing its vehicles in the state since 2017, can now start routine deliveries of food, beverages, medicine and other products, the company said Wednesday in a press release.

“Issuing the first deployment permit is a significant milestone in the evolution of autonomous vehicles in California,” said Steve Gordon, director of the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. “We will continue to keep the safety of the motoring public in mind as this technology develops.”

With the approval, Nuro, which operates a Toyota Prius and its own small vehicle known as the R2, jumped to the front of the pack in the race to begin routine commercial operations using driverless vehicles. GM’s Cruise unit, Waymo LLC and Amazon.com Inc. unit Zoox have also gotten approval for tests in California and are all seeking to cash in on the new technology.

Nuro had to meet several safety standards, such as showing its vehicles are capable of avoiding hazards and creating a plan for how to interact with police and other emergency responders, the DMV said. Last February, the company won an exemption to operate from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which was another state requirement.

Deliveries can only occur during good weather conditions, the vehicles are limited to a maximum speed of 25 miles per hour and they are limited to certain roads. The company can only operate in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, in the San Francisco Bay area.

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