DRIVERLESS CAR

One of the earliest driverless cars to commence operation commercially in the world is billed to commence in California, United States. This is even as the operating driverless cars, which work with high technology sensors, begin the first driverless delivery service in early 2021.

This is coming from California, the third-largest state in the United States (US), which has given the go-ahead for a commercial driverless delivery service for the first time.

Robotics start-up Nuro in California plans to start its driverless delivery operations as early as next year. It previously tested its R2 vehicles in the state in April this year, but the permit will let it charge people for its service.

The firm’s vehicles will be limited to 35mph (56km/h) and will be restricted to operating in “fair weather” conditions.

California Department of Motor VehiclesDirector, Steve Gordon, who made the disclosure, said: “Issuing the firstdeployment permit is a significant milestone in the evolution of autonomousvehicles in California. We will continue to keep the safety of the motoringpublic in mind as this technology develops.”

Nuro was founded by two former Google engineers and has funding from the Japanese firm Softbank.
Its vehicles are designed to operate without a driver or passengers in them.

The R2 uses radar, thermal imaging, and 360-degree cameras to direct its movement. And it lacks a steering wheel, pedals, or side-view mirrors.

The vehicle has an egg-shaped frame thatis smaller than most cars in the US. It also has two temperature-controlledcompartments for deliveries. Doors raise up to reveal the items once a code hasbeen entered by the recipient.

During a previous trial in Houston,Texas, in February, the R2 delivered pizza for Domino’s Pizza, groceries fromsupermarket chain Kroger and goods for Walmart.

Even with the advanced technology put in place for autonomous cars, one transport expert said safety issues would continue to be a concern.

STATE OF CALIFORNIA

But Prof. David Bailey from the University of Birmingham, argues that it would be very limited, to begin with, while the technology is thoroughly evaluated.

“So, for example, the vehicles will only be allowed on ‘surface streets’ with their speed limited to 35mph, and the smaller Nuro delivery bots will be limited to just 25mph. It’s essentially a limited trial, but still a significant step towards a driverless future,” Bailey said.

In October, driverless taxis beganoperating in Phoenix, Arizona, as part of Google’s Waymo service.