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Nuro's new delivery robot will include external airbags for pedestrians

Nuro's new delivery robot will include external airbags for pedestrians

Autonomous delivery company, Nuro, has announced its third generation autonomous vehicle with a slew of new improvements including a quirky-looking external airbag for pedestrians.

The company, which has a fleet of driverless delivery pods in Southwest, says its new vehicle will have twice as much cargo space as the second-generation R2 robot. It will also include modular inserts and new temperature controlled compartments to keep food hot or cold depending on the need.

Nuro, which is valued at $8.6 billion, was founded in 2016 by Dave Ferguson and Jiajun Zhu, two veterans of the Google self-driving car project that would become Waymo. It is one of the few companies to operate fully driverless vehicles on public roads today – that is, vehicles without a safety driver. Its second-generation R2 vehicle is about half as wide as a compact sedan, smaller than most cars, and has no room for human passengers or drivers.

For the new vehicle, the external airbag is certainly the most attractive new feature. Rendering of the airbag It looks like an inflated mattress tied to the front end of the vehicle. As the vehicle is not intended for human drivers or occupants, Nuro installed airbags on the outside for pedestrians in the event of a collision.

It is the latest effort by an autonomous vehicle company to protect people outside the vehicle such as pedestrians and cyclists. And while this may sound silly on the surface – and who knows if external airbags will make a difference when the vehicle is traveling at more than 25mph – the fact is that Nuro is thinking about it as people are with self-driving cars. go. How to talk is fresh.

Not sounding like a broken record, but Americans have traded sedans and small cars for giant trucks and SUVs, and the auto industry is responding by producing vehicles with higher carriages and larger front-ends. This has helped reduce pedestrian fatalities, which have increased by 50 per cent over the past decade.

Automakers must be responsible for the safety of the occupants in their vehicles, but are not assessed by the government on the basis of pedestrian safety. The Biden administration has called for the government's five-star safety rating - the New Car Assessment Program - to be overhauled to include ratings for pedestrian impacts.

Autonomous vehicles are seen as a possible solution to the rise in traffic deaths, but there are many examples of accidents, and at least one pedestrian death, linked to self-driving cars.

Nuro says the new airbag-sporting vehicle will go into production at the company's manufacturing facility that is still under construction in Nevada. The vehicle's powertrain, which includes an electric motor and battery, will be manufactured in the US by BYD, a Chinese company that is one of the largest manufacturers of electric vehicles in the world. The factory is expected to be fully operational by the end of this year.

The company is relatively unknown compared to its rivals in the autonomous vehicle space, largely due to its focus on delivery rather than human passengers. Still, Nuro has made incredible progress on the regulatory front, becoming the first company to receive special exemptions from certain federal safety requirements and most recently getting the green light to charge money for its deliveries in California.

The company says it hopes to eventually grow its business to include "millions" of customers, though it's not providing a timeline for what it expects to achieve.

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