Founded in 2016, Nuro @nurobots is a new startup on autonomous transportation with a mission in “accelerating the benefits of robotics for everyday life”.
Nuro was founded by Dave Ferguson and Jiajun Zhu. Both of them have devoted their careers to robotics and machine learning, most recently as Principal Engineers at Google’s self-driving car project (now Waymo).
During our visit, we will be meeting with Riley Soward, the Product Operations Manager at Nuro. Riley @RileySoward graduated from Boston College in 2018 with a major in Computer Science. While at BC, he founded his own company Campus Insights, a UX research firm that was later acquired by Harvard Student Agencies.
What differs Nuro from others
So far, use cases for self-driving technology have mostly focused on taxi services and long-distance trucking, and Nuro is looking at deliveries, specifically the kind that are low-speed, and local: groceries, laundry, or your take-out order. They are designing a new type of vehicle in solving the last-mile problem.
On February 11, 2019, SoftBank Vision Fund, the world’s largest technology fund, announced its $940 million (Yes, nearly 1 billion USD!) investment in Nuro. SoftBank is a a Japanese multinational holding conglomerate that owns stake in Sprint (85%), Alibaba (29.5%), Yahoo Japan (48.17%), Uber (15%), Didi (ca.20%), WeWork (22%), and six hundred other firms across industries.
Nuro competes with existing AI companies that focuses on autonomous driving solutions, including Waymo, Zoox, Argo AI, and Phantom AI. One company, Aurora, has already partnered with Volkswagon in commercializing an urban sedan with a very similar look.
At this point, Nuro is the only self-driving vehicle company focusing on delivery services; however, once the AI technology is mature and the market is ready, it will be interesting to see if these competitors will enter delivery services just like how Uber introduced UberEats. (Also a question for us to ask!)