California lit the green light for a commercial driverless delivery service for the first time in its history.
The robotics startup, Neuro, plans to begin its driverless delivery operation in early 2021.
It already tested its autonomous R2 vehicles in the state in April, but the license would allow it to charge people for the service.
The company’s vehicles will have a maximum speed of 35 mph (56 km / h) and will only be able to operate in “good weather” conditions.
“The issuance of the first deployment license is an important milestone in the development of autonomous vehicles in California,” said Steve Gordon, director of the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
“We will continue to maintain the safety of the automobile public as this technology develops.”
Neuro was founded by two former Google engineers and is funded by Japanese company SoftBank.
Their vehicles are designed to operate without drivers or passengers.
The R2 uses radar, thermal imaging, and 360 degree cameras to direct its movement. It does not have steering wheel, paddle or side mirrors.
The vehicle has a smaller oval shape than most cars in the United States. It also has two compartments with controlled temperature for delivery. As soon as a code is entered by the recipient, the doors begin to appear.
During a previous trial in Houston, Texas, in February, R2 delivered pizza to Domino’s Pizza, groceries from Kroger supermarket chains and products to Walmart.
Nevertheless, a transport expert said that safety issues would remain a concern.
“Initially, the operation will be very limited, while the technology is being thoroughly evaluated,” said Professor David Bailey of the University of Birmingham.
“In this way, for example, vehicles will only be allowed on ‘flat roads’ with speeds up to 35 MP / h (56km / h) and small neuro delivery robots will be limited to just 25 mp / h (40 km) / H).
“This is essentially a limited test, but still an important step towards a driverless future.”
In October, driverless taxis began operating in Phoenix, Arizona, as part of Google’s Waymo service.
A similar service, supported by technology and online retail giant Alibaba, is currently being tested in China’s largest city, Shanghai.
These are two of the countless tests involving multiple autonomous vehicles worldwide.
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