Mountain View-based Nuro and Uber are embarking on a new multi-year partnership to use Nuro's autonomous, electric vehicles for food deliveries in the United States, the companies announced Thursday, Sept. 8.
The partnership will kick off this fall with deliveries in Mountain View and Houston, with plans to expand the service beyond Mountain View to the greater Bay Area, according to a joint press release.
"Uber Eats consumers will be able to order meals and goods delivered by Nuro’s zero-occupant autonomous delivery vehicles, which run on public roads and are built specifically to carry food and other goods," the companies said in a statement.
“Our partnership with Uber underscores Nuro’s track record of partnering with the world’s leading brands to make autonomous delivery a seamless experience,” Cosimo Leipold, head of partnerships at Nuro said in a statement. “With our unique autonomous delivery vehicles and Uber’s phenomenal scale and reach, we can expand food delivery options from your favorite local mom-and-pop restaurants all the way to nationwide chains.”
Leipold told the Voice that while it's expected to start this fall, an exact launch date for Mountain View deliveries has yet to be determined.
"We've got to finish the technical integration between the two companies and then get merchants signed up," he said, adding that they'd like it to be sooner rather than later. "We're frankly really excited about this being in our backyard."
While Nuro's vision is to deliver anything anytime, anywhere -- within reason -- the service expects to kick off with food deliveries, he said. The service will expand to include groceries and other retail products.
"(For) the initial start, the focus is very much going to be restaurants because that's where I think we can get going the fastest and in the most material way," Leipold said.
The companies have been in talks about the partnership for almost two years, he said.
Leipold emphasized that the partnership is not a short-term pilot or a publicity stunt. "This is really a material deal for both companies," he said. "We've structured it so it's really a value for Uber, for merchants, for customers and for us."
Nuro said that it was the first company to achieve fully autonomous vehicle operations in three states -- Arizona, California, and Texas -- and also the first to obtain an autonomous deployment permit from the California DMV. It remains one of only three companies to be granted the permit to date, according to the press release.