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This autonomous van could move lots of goods—but not a single person

January 30, 2018

If you’re going to build a self-driving delivery vehicle from scratch, why include space for a dumb human? Well, that’s what Silicon Valley startup Nuro thought.

What is it? A van. That drives itself. And hauls loads. But seriously, it’s designed to specialize in low-speed, local, and last-mile deliveries. And Nuro did decide to scrap human-friendly things like seats to maximize storage space.

Under the hood: The van weighs 1,500 pounds—most of that is battery packs that are hooked up to an electric motor—and uses lidar, cameras, and radar to navigate. The point of its glass windshield? To keep other drivers from freaking out.

But: Nuro must convince regulators to approve its vehicles for use on the roads. Most states require a safety driver, so a vehicle without a human, or seatbelts, or a steering wheel will need a special exception before it hits the roads. Of course, assuming Nuro takes care of all that, it will still need to find customers willing to have it deliver things.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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