There are a handful of companies that arein the state of California, but none of those can charge a fee for any services they may render to customers. According to an announcement by the California DMV on Wednesday, that's changing because autonomous delivery startup Nuro has been issued the first deployment permit.
What's a deployment permit? It's a lot like an autonomous vehicle testing permit, but it allows the bearer to offer its autonomous services to customers who then pay for them. Sounds simple, but it's taken until now for a company to secure one. OK, so why was Nuro the first?
Well, Nuro has been hard at work honing its autonomous delivery system in Arizona with companies like, and . It's got a solid track record and was able to convince the DMV of its program's safety. Of course, that doesn't mean that the California DMV gave Nuro carte blanche to operate wherever it wanted.
The deployment permit specifically limits Nuro to offering its services in specific parts of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties -- specifically Atherton, East Palo Alto, Los Altos Hills, Los Altos, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Sunnyvale and Woodside -- and it's only able to use surface streets. Finally, the delivery vehicles are limited to just 25 miles an hour and can only be used in good weather and on roads with a maximum speed limit of 35 mph.
"The California DMV is a leader in safety standards, and we appreciate their collaboration and safety-first approach to AV regulation," said Dave Ferguson, Nuro's co-founder and president, in a statement. "Since founding Nuro over four years ago, we've been working towards the day we could launch a delivery service in our home state. Now that we have the permit, we are thrilled to be able to do so, providing our fellow Californians a convenient and affordable way to access the food, beverages, prescription medicines, and other products they need."
Other developers can, of course, apply for their own deployment permits, but to get them, they have to meet some fairly stringent requirements. These include:
- Identifying the operational design domain of the vehicles, as well as describing any commonly occurring restricted conditions within which the vehicles would not be able to operate.
- Verifying the technology is capable of detecting and responding to roadway situations in compliance with the California Vehicle Code, and describing how the vehicle meets the definition of an SAE Level 3, 4 or 5 autonomous technology.
- Verifying that the vehicles meet federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards or have an exemption from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
- Certifying that the manufacturer has conducted test and validation methods and is satisfied that the autonomous vehicles are safe for deployment on California public roads.
- Developing a Law Enforcement Interaction Plan that provides information to law enforcement and other first responders on how to interact with the autonomous vehicles.
- Providing evidence of insurance or a bond equal to $5 million.
This likely means that we'll start seeing other companies like, and the like follow suit in the near future.