A Silicon Valley robotics startup took another giant step toward making its vision of self-driving delivery vehicles an everyday reality with a $500 million funding round, according a company blog.
Mountain View-based Nuro Inc. this week announced the Series C funding round, which it says will help the company optimize the consumption and delivery of goods in all communities with the use of its second-generation R2 self-driving vehicles.
Nuro already partners with retailers such as Walmart, Kroger's and CVS Pharmacy.
"We now know that our industry, self-driving local delivery, will not only make it easier to buy groceries, hot food, prescription drugs, and other products, but will also positively impact local economies, and serve low-income communities living in food deserts," co-founder and CEO Jiajun Zhu wrote in a blog post. "And during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have learned that contactless delivery of goods — the service R2 provides — can help reduce the spread."
The funding round was led by T. Rowe Price Associates Inc., with participation from new investors Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC. and Baillie Gifford, Zhu said. The round also includes existing investors such as SoftBank Vision Fund 1 and Greylock.
In February, Nuro received an exemption from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration allowing the use of its R2 vehicles on roadways. R2 then became the second autonomous vehicle to receive a driverless testing permit in California, and when the coronavirus pandemic hit, Nuro subsequently set up contactless deliveries of food, water and medical supplies to patients and doctors in care facilities, Zhu said.
Over the summer, the company, founded by Zhu and fellow former Google engineer Dave Ferguson in 2016, began road testing R2 in Mountain View, Houston and Phoenix. It is already making public deliveries in Houston.