That’s one way to make it safer.
Autonomous driving startup Nuro has come up with a delivery vehicle that has a giant external-facing airbag in case it ever hits a cyclist or pedestrian — a rather unusual approach to ensuring humans and delivery robots can coexist peacefully on public streets and walkways.
Depending on how you look at it, the adorable little cart is either designed with safety top of mind, or treating it as inevitable that it’ll run down pedestrians.
“We needed to make it safe, fully electric, and easy to operate,” reads the company’s announcement.
Softening the Blow
Nuro claims the considerably smaller design — it’s around 20 percent less wide than the average passenger car, according to the company — is “ready to be produced at scale” and will give pedestrians and bicyclists plenty of room on sidewalks.
But most strikingly, the little buggy features a “custom external pedestrian airbag across the front of the bot” designed to “reduce the force of impact and number of injuries in the event of collision.”
And that’s good foresight: given enough space to maneuver, the cart can hit an operating speed of 45 mph, twice as fast as your average cyclist.
Nuro makes no mention of its vehicle ever rolling down sidewalks specifically in its announcement — it’s not exactly small — but given its primary purpose, it’s bound to get in the close vicinity of pedestrians regardless.
Fortunately, the vehicle also has a 360 degree field of view to make sure it never plows into anyone in the first place — we hope.
The vehicle also features a 27 square foot compartment that can fit “about 24 bags of groceries” or up to 500 pounds of cargo. It can even cool the compartment down to a frosty 22 degrees Fahrenheit, or heat it up to a toasty 116 Fahrenheit, depending on the cargo.
The proof, as always, is in the pudding. With roads already being quite busy, we have yet to really see what it’s like to share personal space with autonomous delivery vehicles like Nuro’s.
More on Nuro: Domino’s Starts Autonomous Robot Pizza Deliveries
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