For all the discussions about futuristic vehicle designs in an autonomous era, few companies have navigated the accompanying regulatory complications as well as Nuro. In February, the company became the first to earn an exemption from existing federal safety standards for its zero-passenger autonomous prototype.
The timing was fortuitous. Less than a month later, the pandemic struck, bringing urgent demand for delivery services and a longer look at the potential of autonomous delivery vehicles.
Nuro co-founder Dave Ferguson, 40, had such foresight years ago. He had worked as the computer vision and machine-learning lead on Google’s self-driving car project before founding Nuro along with CEO Jiajun Zhu, another former Google engineer, and now Nuro.
Now, in a year filled with significant self-driving developments and formation of business relationships, Nuro has expanded its list of partners to include CVS, Kroger, Domino’s and Walmart at a time when its exemption from FMVSS permits the deployment of as many as 5,000 vehicles in the next two years. In November, those efforts helped the company raise $500 million in a Series C round that valued the company at $5 billion.