Nuro is building two new plants for Nevada for its independent distribution robots. The first is a manufacturing plant where it hopes to soon begin cameramanizing large toaster-shaped vehicles. The other is a closed course test track where it validates bots before sending them to the wild. The company says it will spend $ 40 million to build buildings, both located in southern Nevada.
Founded in 2018 by former Google engineers, Nuro has been testing a driverless grocery service in Arizona and Texas for months and hopes to begin developing a more formal commercial service in several states next year. The company was recently approved will start charging customers for deliveries in California and expects to announce its first deployment in the state soon.
The Nuron R2 prototype can best be described as a mini-robot car. It is shorter and narrower than a human-driven vehicle, but still larger than sidewalk-operated distribution robots. The payload of the vehicle is 190 kg, but there is no space for the driver.
Nuro said its new production facility, which is 125,000 square feet in size and located on 80 acres of property, will be able to produce “tens of thousands” of vehicles when it is up and running. To achieve this, the company is partnering with China’s BYD, a leading manufacturer of electric vehicles. The company’s U.S.-based division produces electric transmissions for Nuro’s vehicles, while Nuro manufactures “all software and digital infrastructure from U.S.-based servers for security and privacy”.
“This is a significant moment for Nuro,” Nuro’s founder and CEO Jiajun Zhu said in a statement. “Based on our tremendous momentum – including strategic partnerships with industry leaders such as Domino, Kroger and FedEx, and in three states – we can now invest in infrastructure to build tens of thousands of robots.”
To strengthen the safety and accuracy of its vehicles ’stand-alone hardware and software, Nuro is building a closed-course test track on the site of the old Las Vegas Speedway, which it will take over. This will allow the company to test its vehicle detection software and see how it reacts in a number of built scenarios to eliminate edge cases that can trigger sensors.
Nuro says construction of the plant will begin in the fall of 2021 and is expected to be completed in 2022. The company expects both sites to be fully operational next year.