Driverless delivery coming in hot in Houston

A driverless delivery vehicle just received a first-ever approval from the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to hit the streets even though it doesn’t meet federal safety standards for cars and trucks.

A few years ago, driverless technology seemed ready for its big breakout moment. Cost, several fatalities, general concern among drivers and reluctance by lawmakers all slowed the roll.

why did the government agree to a relaxation of safety standards

Because Nuro is driverless and passengerless it does not need side mirrors, a windshield, windshield wipers, seats, steering wheels and other mandates for cars set by the government. The omission of these features means Nuro can be smaller, about half the size of a Volkswagen beetle, and loaded with cameras.

The smaller size enables the vehicle to potentially remain in its lane as it shifts away from obstacles, which lowers the likelihood of collisions from swerving into the next-lane over.

The additional cameras gives the vehicle enhanced capabilities in monitoring its surroundings, including continually used rear cameras, which are shut off in regular cars once the car moves forward because they’re seen as a potential distraction for the driver.

more Nuro specialness

In addition, Nuro tops out at 25 mph. It will be used only in pre-mapped slow-traffic neighborhoods.

Also, because there are no passengers, the Nuro is designed to reduce the injury in a potential collision. The front hood is made of softer materials, and collapses inward, if necessary.  Plus, it’s rounded to deflect objects.

The vehicle is electric, which could be greener technology, depending on the way the electricity that charges the vehicle is produced.

how Nuro works

The mobile toaster (some people say it looks like a toaster on wheels) gets loaded with up your grocery order and rolls out. When it arrives, an app provides you with a code that you use to unlock the vehicle and get your food.

Unpack, and send your Nuro back to the store.

Geek out on Nuro’s safety features here.

And, consider this: Self-driving cars have been talked about for years, yet haven’t really gained much traction. Part of the inertia is due to concerns over safety, especially following several fatalities. Are self-driving cars worth the risk? Check out the debate here.

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