Nuro: Transforming local commerce.



With life getting busier, buying groceries, shopping, and running errands are becoming mammoth tasks day by day. But the fact that remains is that life will continue to get busier and there is no alternative to buying groceries. It remains a must. This leads to an important questionIs there something that could make grocery shopping easy?

Improving lives

Having seen people struggling with the basic task of buying groceries and shopping, Dave Ferguson and Jiajun Zhu were eager to start something that would solve problems for many on a ground level. Besides sharing the same passion, they believed in leveraging the power of robotics and artificial intelligence to mitigate this challenge. They noticed a strong need for autonomous technology in the movement of goods. Finally, after extensive research, in 2016, they launched Nuro, a robotics company focused on delivering the future of local commerce, through driverless delivery. Funded by SoftBank, its primary focus is on utilizing AV technology for the delivery of local goods. Ultimately the company’s goal is to accelerate the benefits of robotics for everyday life. The company has three offices in Mountain View, CA, Scottsdale, AZ, and Houston, TX.

“Together, we are pushing the boundaries of robotics to improve human life. We are creating vehicles that will change, simplify, and enhance the way we live.”

How does it work?

It is estimated that American’s take a whopping 220 billion vehicle trips per year, out of which half are for shopping and errands alone. This leads to people spending unwanted time on the road rather than being at home spending time with their families and self. By delivering grocery and other stuff at the doorsteps, Nuro has not only enabled people to stay at home but also avoid on-road collisions. 

Nuro operates as a fleet of self-driving vehicles that deliver food, groceries, consumer products, and packages. For smooth and hassle-free transportation of goods, Nuro has developed its own customized driverless and passengerless vehicles. As opposed to retrofitting passenger vehicles, Nuro has designed its vehicles, custom-built for the transportation of goods. This new class of unmanned vehicles is safer than passenger vehicles: more nimble, narrower, and better able to prioritize the well-being of other road users. By building these vehicles the company has lowered service costs, improved the customer experience, and accelerated autonomous technology deployment to benefit consumers today. 

Being a customer-centric company, its customer satisfaction depends entirely on the prompt and timely delivery of products. To ensure smooth driverless last-mile delivery of products, Nuro has collaborated with Kroger which is the biggest supermarket chain in the U.S, and CVS the largest pharmacy chain in the U.S. Its partnership with Walmart and Domino’s has certainly established Nuro as a torchbearer of the Robotics and AI industry. In December 2018, Nuro with Kroger grocery deliveries in Scottsdale, Arizona became the first driverless delivery service available to the general public. Today, Nuro successfully reaches over 65,000 households across the six zip codes. “At Nuro, we believe that great technology should benefit everyone,” says Nuro spokesperson.

Another indicator of Nuro’s success is its inclusion on Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies in 2019, one of Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas of 2020, and Forbes’ #1 AI company in 2019. To date, the company has successfully raised more than $1 billion in financing from investors including Softbank and Greylock.

Teamwork makes dream work

Nuro’s culture is one of humility in work, adaptability in ideation, ambition in endeavor, and collaborative in nature. At its core, Nuro is a team of 650 dedicated professionals who believe that the only way to change the world is to work as a team towards a common goal. “Together, we are pushing the boundaries of robotics to improve human life. We are creating vehicles that will change, simplify, and enhance the way we live,” emphasizes Nuro spokesperson. With its team of top-class professionals, Nuro is building the robotics and artificial intelligence systems which will redefine the future. With tackle the impossible, do the right thing, have a high bar, and take ownership as the four key tenets of Nuro’s company culture, the team is driving toward the company’s mission taking every challenge by its horns.

Nuro Founders Dave Ferguson and Jiajun Zhu.
Nuro Founders Dave Ferguson and Jiajun Zhu.

Nuro has partnered up with the Houston Food Bank to deliver not only meals but also quarantine kits and essential supplies for diabetics.

Standing up to COVID-19

During these tumultuous times many, including the first-line medical staff, grocery store employees, the security systems, first responders, and others have emerged as heroes as they have supported the system to sustain. Nuro in its own ways has tried to do its best to stop the virus from spreading. By deploying its R2 unmanned vehicles to provide a truly contactless delivery of goods, it ruled out any possible risk of infection due to interaction between a driver dropping off goods and a customer picking them up. By providing a contactless delivery solution with R2 in Sacramento and San Mateo, Nuro not only ensured that the first line healthcare workers and the medical staff have the necessary supplies they need at hand but also helped in leveling up the safety and health of both patients and staff. Nuro also partnered with local food banks in California, Arizona, and Texas to provide contactless delivery of goods to surrounding communities. Notably, Nuro partnered with the Houston Food Bank to deliver not only meals but also quarantine kits and essential supplies for diabetics. 

When Nuro was started they wanted to change the world for the better via their robotic products and services. Little did they know that the technology could prove so useful in the fight against coronavirus. With an optimistic approach about the future, post the Covid-19 era, Nuro plans to expand its delivery service to a full city scale in Houston and looks forward to adding new partners. 

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