Core77 Design Awards
- Other Years
Nuro is a zero-occupant autonomous vehicle designed for last-mile goods delivery. Our vehicles deliver the things people need—from produce to prescriptions—from neighborhood businesses to substantially reduce community dependence on passenger cars. We power our zero-emission vehicles with 100% renewable electricity from wind farms in Texas. By utilizing our zero-occupant autonomous vehicles to deliver goods, communities can experience safer roads, more equitable access, cleaner air, and more time back that would have otherwise been spent on running errands.
Nuro presents a solution to several current issues: firstly, road fatalities, which have been steadily increasing year over year. Our zero-occupant vehicles decrease the number of vehicle occupants at risk of injury on our roadways, mitigate crash severity due to improved pedestrian protection, and reduce the probability of crashes due to a narrow design. Safety is our top priority, from design to deployment.
Secondly, with a goods-only design, we can empower local businesses. This is important because, even in the age of e-commerce, 86% of shopping is still local. The fundamental problem with the current model for local shopping is that it requires people to both have cars and to drive those cars often. Nuro eliminates the need for a car to access the goods necessary for daily life.
Thirdly, Nuro is a meaningful way of eliminating emissions from local car trips. Of all personal car trips in the US, 43% are for shopping and errands. This means a lot of cars on local roads, all the time, and the majority of those cars aren't electric, which means they're contributing to pollution.
And finally, Nuro unlocks access to fresh fruits and vegetables for those living in food deserts. It's our hope that with Nuro's affordable delivery service, we can conveniently bring fresh groceries to the 20 million Americans who live in areas without grocery stores.
Nuro's final vehicle form is the elegant result of scrupulous negotiation between the teams' most imperative first principles for both the vehicle's functionality and to achieve our communities' social acceptance that it operates within. It has to deliver its goods perfectly every time to all user demographics in one of the most highly regulated environments for safety.
Nuro's functional considerations include integrating a multitude of sensors into the vehicle's body panels that enable full self-driving unmanned navigation, locating the powertrain as low as possible for ease of users' loading and unloading, optimizing the vehicle's packaging layout so that the largest interior volumes were available for goods delivery, and locating both hatchback-style doors on the curbside of the vehicle for optimum safety.
Autonomous goods delivery doesn't just reduce car trips to the store: it takes passenger cars completely out of the equation. That's important because today cars are required to participate in much of society, which leaves many without access to fresh fruit and vegetables, along with other everyday needs. Nuro's technology enables access for everyone.
We believe that Nuro's autonomous delivery vehicles will make streets safer for everyone while giving back people time they would have spent on the road. Autonomous driving eliminates the risk of distraction, drunk driving, or speeding, and Nuro's delivery AVs only carry goods, allowing us to focus on protecting everyone else on the road. The narrow design of our third-generation vehicle leaves more space for pedestrians and cyclists, and the vehicle's doors open only on one side, reducing the risk of "dooring" cyclists. Most importantly, the lack of people in zero-occupant vehicles means fewer people at risk. A team of researchers at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute estimated that, for every mile of driving replaced by a zero-occupant design vehicle, the risk of fatality or injury can be reduced by approximately 60%.
By utilizing our goods-first technology, local businesses can compete with internet retailers. Currently, there are only two business models available for delivery: expensive and fast, or less expensive but slow. Nuro unlocks inexpensive, on-demand delivery.
Autonomous delivery will revitalize local commerce and level the playing field in the digital economy, supporting the growth of local retail and innovation. That's important because, even though e-commerce has seen rapid growth in recent decades, local commerce continues to be the backbone of the American economy. With 2-day shipping from distant locations becoming more prevalent, local businesses have an opportunity to unlock new competitive advantages through quick and affordable deliveries to consumers. We believe that removing transportation barriers will strengthen Main Street and give local entrepreneurs a technological edge in the digital economy.
Additionally, delivery AVs will create jobs, and most of these jobs will be at the local level. In a recent study, Steer found that delivery AVs will create and sustain an average of 3.4 million jobs from 2025-2035. Nuro is already creating new, well-paying jobs in communities and upskilling American workers. In August 2021, Nuro announced a $40 million investment in two facilities in Nevada—one for end-of-line manufacturing and one for testing and validation—which will include an initial 250 highly skilled career opportunities. We're looking to partner with local universities, community colleges, and career training programs to build a talent pipeline, specifically targeting individuals traditionally underrepresented in technology roles.
Finally, we're focused on creating healthier, more sustainable cities by replacing trips made with traditional, gasoline-powered vehicles. By lowering emissions, we can contribute to cleaner air and to an overall healthier planet.
Because the vehicle's exterior is entirely void of transparent glass or a "belt line", lower cladding visually breaks up the relatively tall body color, the front cap's dark "windshield" provides context as to its directionality. This also provides proportional familiarity with other on-road vehicles, one of the most challenging aspects of an affordable and safe delivery-only vehicle. Nuro's headlamp "eyes" are low and determined, located within a visual cue of the safety visor of a race helmet. The design team's overall aesthetic drivers for both the exterior and interior were functional integration, minimizing appendages, and keeping the users' focus away from the sensors and onto the delight of clutterless touchless delivery at home.