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Nuro's self-driving delivery van wants to run errands for you

The heretofore-unknown startup has raised $92 million in funding.

These days, it's not unusual to have big names suddenly appear on the scene with a self-driving startup that nobody heard about before -- Aurora's a good example of that. And now, there's another.

Founded by former Google engineers Jiajun Zhu and Dave Ferguson, Nuro is a startup that aims to shake up the idea of local commerce by building a self-driving van that takes care of your around-town errands for you. Groceries? Screw going to the store -- simply walk outside and grab them from the car that just arrived.

Weighing less than a ton, most of the car's heft is relegated to its battery, which powers its electric propulsion system -- you didn't think this ran on gas, did you? It's about half the width of a standard passenger car, but its length and height are similar to modern crossovers. The windshield appears to be just for show, because people prefer change in graduated doses.

It kind of looks like a breadbasket, which makes sense -- it's basically a big basket on wheels.


The interior, on the other hand, cares not for people. It's designed to maximize cargo space, because a human will never be inside it. It's modular, so you can shove it full of groceries or dry cleaning and know the parcel will be secure by the time it gets to where it's going. A number pad on the side of the vehicle is presumably what stands between your packages and any cunning thieves.

"We started Nuro to make products that will have a massive impact on the things we do every day," Ferguson said in a statement. "Our world-class software, hardware and product teams have spent the past 18 months applying their expertise to deliver on this mission. The result is a self-driving vehicle designed to run your errands for you. It is poised to change the way that businesses interact with their local customers."

To date, Nuro has raised $92 million in venture capital across two rounds, led by Banyan Capital and Greylock Partners. Nuro is now in the process of securing additional partnerships. It currently lacks manufacturing partners or customers, but that's in the works.

Odds are, logistics companies like Amazon and UPS might have an interest in something like that, if they aren't coming up with their own solutions already.

Nuro is far from the only company looking into the idea of dedicated AVs for logistics. At CES this year, Toyota unveiled the e-Palette, an all-purpose self-driver that is capable of hauling people by day and packages by night