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Nuro self-driving car gets US DOT's blessing

The Nuro R2 doesn't even have space for a passenger and there aren't any driver controls.

Nuro R2
Here they come, here come the pod cars.

California-based Nuro has made history. Perhaps not the biggest splash, but in one small step for self-driving cars, Nuro's driverless R2 has received the first approved exemption from the US Department of Transportation.

The exemption allows Nuro to operate its latest R2 self-driving car on public roads despite it having no human-driver controls. Instead, more sensors and cameras are present. 

The R2 is more of a pod with wheels than a car, largely because the company designed the vehicle to carry packages and other goods, not people. Strangely enough, Roush, the company best known for high-performance Ford Mustangs, builds the pod for Nuro, while Nuro supplies its autonomous technologies and sensors.

The narrow design is permitted by the fact no humans will ever be on board, and it's meant to make it easier for the R2 to maneuver around city streets. The R2 also boasts temperature control to keep food fresh on its way to a happy customer.

Nuro plans to roll the R2 out onto public roads in Houston, first with partners. There, it plans to bring customers food, groceries and other goods. The startup has plenty of experience doing this kind of thing with robot cars, thanks to the original R1. The first-generation car spent its life delivering groceries via a partnership with Kroger. The R2 will do some of the same mixed with food delivery and other services.

While it continues testing the R2, Nuro plans to work with the DOT to continue shaping regulations for driverless cars. Houston locals will see these little pods on the street in the months to come.

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